Rio Olympics 2016: 'It's gutting' - Lauren Boyle rues illness and injury as she misses 800m freestyle final
A shattered Lauren Boyle blamed a "nightmare" buildup including injury and illness as New Zealand's top swimmer missed the Olympic final of her top event the 800m freestyle.
New Zealand's only genuine medal hope in the pool, after her world championship 800m silver last year, Boyle was ninth-fastest qualifier and missed the final by 0.29 seconds.
"The swim was better but I'm not strong. It's gutting," she told NZ Newswire.
Boyle was third in her heat with a time of 8min 25.84sec - more than 8sec off her personal best. She finished fourth in the 800m freestyle final in London four years ago.
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Boyle was aiming to become New Zealand's first Olympic swimming medallist since Danyon Loader 20 years ago, but her buildup was hit by health problems including a throat infection that laid her low at a crucial stage of her final training block on the Gold Coast last month. She also revealed a hip injury hampered her in Rio, after she also missed the 400m final.
"It's been my worst nightmare to come to a competition like this. I'm not here to participate because I want to perform. It's quite upsetting to not be able to compete at the capability that I believe I have," Boyle told Sky TV.
Asked whether she would return for her fourth Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, the 28-year-old said she wasn't sure. "That's four years away. I haven't given any thought into what I'll do next except have a good break and really try and get my health back and heal my hip."
Compatriot Emma Robinson also missed the final to finish 16th with a time of 8:33.73 with American phenomenon Katie Ledecky setting the fastest time of 8:12.86.
Boyle is the latest Kiwi medal hope who failed to fire in Rio, following the equestrian meltdown, the elimination of the New Zealand men's sevens in the quarter-finals, cyclist Linda Villumsen's disappointing time trial, and the bemusing efforts of several rowing crews.
- Stuff, NZN