Vicky Thornley and Katherine Grainger claim Olympic silver medal at Rio 2016

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Staff Reporter

VICKY THORNLEY came agonisingly close to becoming an Olympic champion but was forced to settle for silver in the women’s double sculls final at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Thornley, a former pupil at Bishop Heber High School who hails from Holt, was only just unable to retain the title her partner Katherine Grainger had won at London 2012 with Anna Watkins, but securing silver was still a remarkable feat for the pair.

Grainger, 40, became the most decorated female British Olympian ever with the medal, a fifth medal of her career to move ahead of swimmer Rebecca Adlington.

It is another silver for Grainger having also finished second at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

This one comes less than two years after returning to the sport having completed a PhD in the sentencing of homicide at King's College London.

The journey to Brazil has been bumpy, with Grainger and 28-year-old Thornley deciding to abandon the double sculls project midway through the season, only to reform having failed to qualify for seats in the eight.

Their selection in the double sculls was confirmed a month and a half ago and the duo have impressed in Rio, finishing second in both the heats and semi-finals at the Lagoa.

Things started brightly in the final as they crossed the 500m mark in the lead, which was stretched to 0.64 seconds over the Polish crew at the halfway point.

It was nip and tuck for a while, only for Grainger and Thornley to open up a 1.25secs lead heading into the final stretch. However, Poland's Magdalena Fularczyk-Kozlowska and Natalia Madaj were able to kick on to grab gold, with the British crew tiring in the final 100m, finishing an agonising 0.95s behind.

Thornley told the BBC: "I'm so thankful to Katherine that she did such a good job in that race. 

“It was really quite a big headwind and I'm not sure what happened at the end and it just got a bit tight or whatever. I'm just a bit lost for words if I'm honest. It's a bit of a whirlwind."

The British pair led with 200 metres to go but Grainger said: "I don't think you ever think you're going to win it. I knew we were ahead and I knew we were feeling good and then we just came down so quickly and you draw on every element you've got and every bit of experience you've got."

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