Ian Wynne defied a freakish, painful ankle injury to take the bronze medal in the K1 500m kayak final here yesterday. Having looked out of contention at the halfway stage and then a possibility for silver as the line approached, the 30-year-old from Kent was pipped by Australia's Nathan Baggaley, who finished second to Canada's Adam van Koeverden.
Wynne, who finished seventh in the K2 1,000m early on Friday morning, sustained his injury just 12 hours before yesterday morning's race. "I spent most of Friday resting and relaxing," he said, explaining his pre-500m preparations. "But then at about eight o'clock I was getting off the bus after dinner and I missed the curb and just rolled over on the ankle. It was a silly accident."
The ankle was evidently still hurting after yesterday's race. Wynne, whose sleep had been disrupted by the pain, hobbled from his kayak and was unable to walk easily without crutches.
"Every stroke you do you're pushing with your foot on the footrest and it drives through the body," he said. "You need that leg strength. Maybe on another day I could've got gold. Maybe I would've come fourth. Once I was racing it was head down and just do the job. I'm happy with bronze at the moment, but will come back and get better next time."
Wynne's medal had a special significance for Great Britain. It guaranteed that the nation's haul here, across all sports, would at least match that from Sydney. It was Britain's 27th medal of the Games, and with Amir Khan guaranteed at least silver tonight in the boxing, the 2000 Games tally of 28 had been matched, with more chances to come in other sports.
One of those chances went west not long afterwards in the women's K1 500m final, in which Lucy Hardy finished seventh. That was no disgrace, however, as a place in the final had always been Hardy's principal aim.
Over at the taekwondo hall, two more British hopes were dashed before lunch as Sarah Bainbridge lost in her under-67kg preliminary and then Craig Brown's chances of gold were ended in the men's under-80kg class.
Bainbridge lost 7-6 to Charmie Sobers of the Netherlands. Brown, a 21-year-old Londoner, failed to reach the quarter-finals as he was beaten 12-6 by Australia's Daniel Trenton, a silver medallist four years ago. Trenton's progress later in the day determined whether Brown would make the repêchage, from where a bronze was on offer. But after a four-hour wait, Brown saw Trenton lose his quarter-final, ending both their hopes of glory.
Britain's final medal at these Olympics could come in the taekwondo hall. Sarah Stevenson sets out on the gold trail at just after 9am, local time, this morning in the over-67kg class.
The 21-year-old from Doncaster finished fourth in Sydney, aged 17, having been tipped for an Olympic medal by Jackie Chan. The martial arts film star even provided bits and pieces of funding. Such bonuses are always welcome in the Stevenson household, where car- boot sales have been regular features for many years to raise cash for Sarah to continue competing. After the 2000 Olympics, the investment paid off as she became the world champion in 2001.
Whether she continues in taekwondo could depend on what happens today. Last year a serious injury to her cruciate ligament kept her out of action between March and December.
Feeling "demotivated" and frustrated that her Olympic dream was slipping away, she even considered retirement. Her recovery to fitness and form faces its ultimate test today.