Northern Irish rowers Rebecca Shorten, Hannah Scott and Rebecca Edwards emerged from their Olympic debuts with mixed feelings.
There was heartbreak for Shorten’s women’s four who held a podium position for the majority of their race but faded and missed the medals by more than a second.
Belfast’s Shorten, Harriet Taylor, Rowan McKellar and Karen Bennett made a fast start from lane one but were caught by Ireland in the final throes.
They ended 1.06 short of the Olympic podium and a full five seconds behind the Australian boat who won gold in 6:15.37, an Olympic best time.
Shorten couldn’t hide her disappointment after going so close.
“I’m proud but I wish I’d been able to take a medal back. I am sorry and just a bit gutted,” she told BBC Sport.
“It’s absolutely gutting to be that close. For most of it, we were up. I don’t even have words, I’m just gutted that we couldn’t do it. It was one of the best rows we’ve ever done so I think we just have to hold our heads high.
“We didn’t have a good heat and at that stage it looked like we’d be lucky to even make the final so we turned that around and we have to be proud of that.
“We’re a new crew that has only been together for five months. A lot of those crews have been together years.”
Bennett added: “Obviously, it was really gutting we didn’t medal, but as the girls said we did our best race out there.
“We have not really been together for that long. So I think we should be really proud of that performance.
“It is just really frustrating and gutting, that our performance was only good enough for 4th rather than 3rd.
“You want something to show for everything you have been through. We are all going to be gutted and thinking what if.
“But we always train with no regrets. Being there for each other is something we do really well, that is something we also had in Rio.
“I feel lucky to be with these girls, and to share the experience with them.
“I’m just devastated but at the same time, I have got them and we have all the support we need.”
There was a degree of retribution for Scott and the women’s quad scullers who took a dominant victory in the B final, meaning seventh place overall .
The second youngest crew in the event behind France with an average age of just over 22, Coleraine-born Scott, Lucy Glover and Mathilda and Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne took victory by nearly four seconds.
“If we hadn’t done that I think we would have been more unsatisfied,” said Scott after the crew finished third in their heat and then fourth at the repechage, where two-last chance spots in the medal final were available.
“I don’t think we quite showed what we had in the first part of the regatta, but I am really proud we got ourselves to this point today and pulled us through.
“What we learned from the regatta, is something that will live with me for the rest of my time in rowing.
“What we have been left with, is going to drive us forward for the next three years. It is horrendous at the moment, but I think as we move forward it’ll come through.”
Aughnacloy’s Edwards was part of a Women’s eight that was billed as a project boat for British Rowing with a target to produce a strong result at the next Games, Paris 2024.
Their Olympic campaign ended with fifth place in the repechage. The top four went through to the final and they were eight seconds short of Australia in fourth.
Banbridge’s Philip Doyle is also done for this Games as he and Ireland partner Ronan Doyle finished fourth in the men’s double sculls B final for 10th place overall.