Great Britain’s proud golden run in the Olympic men’s four came to a disappointing end but a surprise silver in the men’s quadruple sculls lifted the gloom for British Rowing.
The men’s double sculls, men’s four and the women’s four finished in fourth place but there was a significant silver lining in the next race as Harry Leask, Angus Groom, Tom Barras and Jack Beaumont finished second in the quad.
They led at halfway before being overtaken by the Dutch but held off the Australians and the Polish to clinch silver.
It was Britain’s first Olympic medal in the event - and Beaumont said: “We’re hugely proud. We’ve worked so hard. We’ve been part of a rowing team that’s had huge success, a huge tradition of British rowing.
“But, in our sculling team, there’s a tradition of being in the shadows a little bit. We’ve built on years of hard, hard work and near misses and I’m so proud to get this silver medal. It’s the start of a new history, and that’s awesome.”
Britain had won gold in the four at the last five Olympics – a run started by Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, Tim Foster and James Cracknell in Sydney in 2000 – but the quartet of Oliver Cook, Matthew Rossiter, Rory Gibbs and Sholto Carnegie could only finish fourth.
They had looked set for silver behind Australia but the effort of chasing for gold cost them and they crashed into the Italian boat in a shambolic finish.
Rossiter said: “We tried our best but we really screwed up there at the finish so it’s a bit heartbreaking. There’s no sugarcoating it – we’re absolutely devastated."
The women’s four of Rowan McKellar, Hattie Taylor, Karen Bennett and Rebecca Shorten were not fancied to get a medal but came extremely close, finishing just over a second behind Ireland.
Bennett said: “We’ve not really been together for that long so we should be really proud of that performance, it’s just really frustrating and really gutting that that was fourth rather than third.”
Graeme Thomas and John Collins had set themselves the goal of finishing in the top three in the double sculls but were unable to overhaul the Chinese.
Collins said: “We used all our calls earlier than we would normally to try to get into a medal position but the consequence was we ran out of steam at the end without getting past the Chinese.
“Hats off to them. It took class to do that. We didn’t make it easy today. Part of my mindset was if anybody’s going to be in front of us I’m going to make them absolutely bleed to do it.”