If his defence of the gold medal he won in Beijing proved sadly limp on the water, at least Tim Brabants made a bolder stand once he came ashore here yesterday. Having only just scraped into the final of the 1,000 metres kayak, Brabants was never in contention and finished last of eight behind Eirik Larsen of Norway, who gunned down the trail-blazing Canadian Adam van Koeverden in the dying stages.
Brabants, whose preparation had been hampered by injury and who now returns to work as an accident and emergency doctor, admitted it was now "unrealistic" to imagine he might make it to Rio at the age of 39. If this was to be his Olympic swansong, however, his parting shot was delivered with due dignity – going out of his way to stress and celebrate the probity of Larsen, Van Koeverden and Max Hoff of Germany, who was third.
"They're worthy champions," he said. "I know they're good athletes, and they're clean athletes as well. That's a key thing for me – getting the top guys on the podium, knowing they're clean. All we can do as British athletes is promote drug-free sport."
He was prouder of the Olympic ideal than his effort yesterday, albeit he acknowledged that his perspectives have been corrected by a daughter. "At least my little one will still be happy to see me, even if my coach isn't," he said. "I was pretty much outclassed, and I feel bad for the support, which has been fantastic. I'm an ageing athlete. But I'm not done yet. You can't go out with eighth place in the Olympics."
The home women's K4 team came a creditable fifth behind Hungary.
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