The golden hue had faded, but the Kiwi lightweight double scull of Storm Uru and Peter Taylor said they still took plenty of satisfaction out of their bronze medal as rowing's Olympic programme came to a close tonight.
Southland's Uru and Taylor, Lower Hutt-born but now rowing out of Auckland, had their work cut out with defending champ Brits Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter and Danes Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist the form horses heading in.
They clung to the top two crews for most of the race, but just did not have the kick at the end to work their way into the finish. The Danes got up in the last 100m to pip the Brits for the gold.
But Uru and Taylor said they could be happy with their effort, given their unfavourable lane draw, the drama of a re-start after an early equipment failure on the British boat and the class of the two boats they chased all the way to the finish.
Their bronze took the Kiwi squad's tally for the Games to three golds and two bronzes - an impressive haul in anybody's language.
"That was a really tough race, we went out there to race our race and put our best performance out there," said Uru afterwards. "It wasn't quite good enough but we can hold our heads high and really cherish the medal.
"It makes us proud to represent New Zealand with a performance like that. It's bittersweet, we were chasing the gold for the last four years but still it's an Olympic medal and we're happy with that."
Taylor said they couldn't be disappointed.
"We spent the last four years with gold on our minds and we believed we had the goods to do it. We had a great race but just fell short today.
"We'll walk away very proud and very happy. I'm mighty proud of what we've done over the last five years and that bronze medal it's awesome to walk away with that."
Single-sculler Emma Twigg was fourth in her final, but could never work into medal contention in a race won in impressive fashion by Czech Miroslava Knapkova.
Twigg had worked into the fourth spot by the halfway mark, but could never make any inroads on the leading trio.
The British won the much-anticipated fours final which, as expected, turned into a dramatic head-to-head against the Australian quartet. With the Dorney roar in full noise, the home crew outlasted the Aussies by about half a boat-length, and when the lightweight women's double of Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking followed with gold soon after the Brits had surged ahead of New Zealand on the rowing medal table.
The two Kiwis crews in action in B finals both failed to fire, with the lightweight double of Louise Ayling and Julia Edward coming home third, and the men's four of Tyson Williams, Jade Uru, Sean O'Neill and Chris Harris fifth in a tight finish.
- Fairfax Media