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Rio Olympics 2016: Tin medals - The Kiwis who finished fourth

By David Leggat

Emma Twigg finished fourth at the Olympics for the second time. Photo / AP
Emma Twigg finished fourth at the Olympics for the second time. Photo / AP

Forget the New Zealand sevens women's despair and tears at finishing one short of the gold medal last week in Rio; there's one other position that's the most disliked at the Olympics.

It's called tin medal. Fourth. One off the podium. The most quickly forgotten place in Olympic sport.

So far New Zealand have six 'tins' and they're not without a chance of another couple in the final week of Olympic competition.

It began with the eventing team, who were one solid showjumping ride from the great Mark Todd away from a gold medal. Things went badly awry for Todd and Leonidas II and they dropped from first to fourth.

At the velodrome, the two New Zealand team pursuit groups both finished a spot away from a bronze.

The women's team of Lauren Ellis, Raquel Sheath, Rushlee Buchanan and Jaime Nielsen were almost four seconds behind Canada in the rideoff for bronze; the men's quartet of Piet Bulling, Regan Gough, Aaron Gate and Dylan Kennett were almost three seconds behind Denmark in the bronze ride.

Given those margins, neither team could count themselves unlucky.

Then there's the rowers, who underperformed, at least by the expectations set for them, and expected by the athletes of themselves.

The two golds to Eric Murray and Hamish Bond in the coxless pair, and single sculler Mahe Drysdale, and the silver to Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent, were followed by three 'tins', all from women's crews.

Emma Twigg's fine career almost certainly closed on a fourth in the single scull, repeating her placing from London four years ago; the women's eight, a crew who show distinct promise with Tokyo 2020 in mind, got what might be termed a good fourth; as did the two-time world champion lightweight double of Julia Edward and Sophie Mackenzie.
So how to assess the 'tin'.

Would you rather finish an agonising step short of the dais and have a fourth placing on your Olympic CV than, say, a 20th?

Or is it a case of there being no difference if you don't make the top three? You either on the podium or you're nowhere.

Or does telling the grandkids that you finished fourth among the world's best on the grandest of sports stages still matter?

It's a fair bet New Zealand will lift that tally this week, but let's not dip into the projecting game of where those fourths might come from.

- NZ Herald

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