Olympic veterans Ken Wallace and Jacob Clear have paid tribute to their teammates but spoken of the heartache of finishing fourth in the K4 1000 final in Rio.
The Australians were the defending gold medallist in the event, although only one crew member, Jacob Clear, remained in the boat from London.
Clear was joined by Beijing gold medallist, Ken Wallace, and World U23 K2 1000 gold medallists, Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood, in the new-look boat.
“We put it all on the line,” Clear said.
“It is a hard one to swallow, that fourth place, just missing the podium. I suppose you look at things and say if we may have done something different, would we have got on the podium. I suppose that’s something we can go and look at, but we’ve all done each other proud I think.
“We can definitely hold our heads up high.”
The German gold medallists took the race out hard, with the Australians caught up in the chasing group. After slipping back as far as sixth, the crew finished strongly to grab fourth.
Wallace, who also finished fourth in the K2 1000 in London, said he could not be prouder of his teammates.
“We did the best that we could, it was just unfortunate that we couldn’t get on to the podium,” Wallace said.
“It would have been nice to get up there and go home with something in our hands, it’s good to share these moments with these guys. We can walk away knowing that we gave it our best.
“It’s tough to get fourth, but if you can walk away knowing that you’ve done your absolute best, then that’s all we can do.”
The K4 crew only came together this year, but Clear said it was not a handicap to have had less time together.
“The Germans were only put together this year as well, so with the right combination you can definitely come out and win,” he said.
“And with these three boys here, I think we were the best opportunity to go out and do that for Australia.”
Wallace said he would like to keep paddling in the K4, while triple Olympian Clear, 31, said he would take some time out to think about his future.
“I don’t know, four years is a long time to go, but I suppose I’ll go and sit down with my wife and family and have a chat about it,” he said.
Young guns Fitzsimmons, 20, and Wood, 22, said making the Olympics was a dream come true, and has whet their appetite to keep paddling towards Tokyo 2020.
“Even though it was fourth, and we are that close to a medal, it’s definitely made us a lot hungrier to go that step further,” Fitzsimmons said.
“We didn’t come away with a medal, but we’ve come away with a lot of experience. Our passion is kayaking, and we do this sport because we love it. We’ll come back stronger.”
Germany won the gold medal, ahead of Slokakia and the Czech Republic.