Annalise Murphy was left devastated today after narrowly missing out on the chance to win Ireland's first medal of London 2012.
The 22-year-old enjoyed an impressive Olympic debut that began with four successive victories, putting her in a good position for today's medal race.
Murphy was one of four sailors challenging for a podium spot in the Laser Radial class, but could only finish fifth this afternoon to leave her fourth overall.
The 22-year-old came off the water in tears as she narrowly missed out on the top three, with gold going to China's Xu Lijia and the other podium spots filled by Marit Bouwmeester and Evi Van Acker.
"I am pretty devastated but it is how sport happens," Murphy said.
"I was just on the wrong end of the four of us today. It is going to be really tough but I am going to have to try and get over it.
"I feel like I had a brilliant event. If it was any other regatta and I got those points I would probably be winning easily but just three other girls had amazing events. It was always going to be really tough to beat them."
Murphy says she would have taken fourth place a year ago, but found the manner in which she slipped out of the medal places hard to take.
"I think fourth is probably the hardest place to finish," she said.
"You're so close. It is going to definitely push me to train harder and work harder overall.
"I was first around the windward mark and then lost out a lot on going left in the first downwind.
"I guess you just have to try and keep your eyes open and I guess I made a few decision that weren't great in the race and that is what cost me in the end."
While Murphy was left disappointed, Belgium's Van Acker was relieved after taking bronze ahead of the Irish sailor.
"I was feeling 'yes, no, yes, no, yes, no'," she said.
"Then I just decided it's going to be now or never and it had to be 'yes' so I looked behind and thought 'Where's the gust?' It was exciting.
"All my friends and family are here on the Nothe (spectator area), a lot of Belgian fans. We don't have many Belgian medal chances and all of Belgium is supporting me."
Xu was similarly delighted after becoming the latest Chinese athlete to take gold at London 2012.
"I didn't have a very good start so tacked to the right - I know where my strengths are," she said.
"I made the most of everything today. I have enjoyed the freedom. No regrets.
"I am proud of the gold, especially as I'm in Britain, because Britain and European countries are good and I want to take this experience back to China so more can experience the beauty of this sailing."
Ireland are guaranteed some medal success in the boxing ring but Murphy would have put them on the board, had she managed a podium place.