Disappointment is one thing on an Olympic stage. Add bafflement into the equation and you have Philip Doyle standing in the mixed zone this morning after his and Ronan Byrne’s dreams of a medal washed away on the waters at the Sea Forest course.
The double sculls pairing finished last of four boats in their semi-final here, the purgatory for their inability to find a groove in three races across as many days being a B final later in the week.
Their feet will not trouble a podium here.
Silver medalists at the World Championships in 2019, Doyle and Byrne have rattled their minds to come up with an answer to their indifferent form but there was no eureka moment, just a roll call of suspects and no smoking gun.
Doyle spoke yesterday about difficult wind conditions. He mentioned heavy legs this time, wondered if it might have even been nerves, and revealed that they had even turned to their spare boat in the hope that the preferred choice had something wrong with the hull.
None of it mattered.
“It’s disappointing for us because we have been hitting personal bests in training and our work in training the last few weeks has been really good and we were very happy with it.
“Working hard against the lightweights, we had one of the best performing boats we had in a long time. It’s hard not to reach your expectations and to come into this and come up short.
“We weren’t here just for the t-shirt. We were here to bring something home and we obviously haven’t lived up to that.
"That’s something that we’re really struggling to come to terms with but we will have to see what happens Wednesday and see if we can find something over the next few days.”
Doyle spoke of this being the first year of the Paris cycle as much as the last for Tokyo but the future is uncertain with the plug pulled on the World Championships in Shanghai in the months to come and a contract awaiting for him to go back working as a doctor in Derry come December.
He had already wangled his way out of a summer start to his medical duties because of his rowing commitments but he has found a happy balance between his sport and his work and you get the feeling he might be of a mind to lean in again and pull for 2024.
“I’ll have to nip onto the phone now and see whether there is something for me to to do September, October November. I am working in a pediatric unit in Derry starting in December. I’ll see if they can give me something in the meantime because I don’t want to hang around.”
So many questions, so few answers.
He dealt with it all impressively. There were no histrionics, no sullenness, nor anger. Just a lingering regret that will last long after they are done here, that they couldn’t challenge for a medal that seemed well within their compass.
“We’re really sorry to everyone at home and want to thank everybody for looking in and checking in on us and staying up late. And thanks for your questions today.”
A classy touch.
Impressive stuff from a guy still figuring it all out.