Ben Pritchard admits the weather conspired against him after missing out on a maiden Paralympic medal.
The Swansea star set a new Paralympic record in Saturday’s repechage but faulted to fifth in the final against strong winds.
The 29-year-old star is paralysed from the waist down as a result of a cycling crash in 2016 and admits he struggles to combat headwinds on the water.
That showed in the final as he fell behind early, and though he made a late charge down the final 500 metres, he was four seconds off a medal.
Pritchard dismissed the suggestion he was tired from the repechage, which he had to complete after failing to advance directly to the final from Friday’s heat.
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“I felt great this morning, I felt like the repechage was a good place for me to go because on Friday I didn’t feel like I rowed that well and Saturday I rowed much better,” said Pritchard, who is able to train full-time and benefit from world class facilities, technology, coaching and support teams thanks to National Lottery funding.
“I struggle in the headwind with my disability, I struggle to get through it and I think I had to trust myself and my way of rowing that long and loose was going to pay off.
“I think I was gaining on them and ran out of track, so it is something for me to work on. It is three years to Paris now and hopefully in three years’ time I will be back at my second Paralympic Games with this experience behind me and we will see where we go.”
Pritchard was left behind in the starting blocks and crossed the 500m marker seven seconds down on leader Roman Polianskyi.
That steadily grew through the race as the Ukrainian dashed clear to win gold, leaving a scrap for silver and bronze.
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Pritchard always seemed too far back to contend and he finished behind Australia’s Erik Horrie and Brazil’s Rene Campos Perreira, while Spain’s Javier Reja Munoz took fourth.
“It is a pretty tough one to take today, the dream was a medal and a podium and I genuinely believed that I could do it until I crossed the line and it was only when I crossed the line that I realised,” the 29-year-old added.
“I think it is going to take a couple of days to pick myself back up and see where I can make some changes. Hats off to the guys who have the medals and the Spanish guy who came through today.
“I put 15 seconds on him yesterday but today he just had another gear, which I didn’t have. I am bitterly disappointed really.”
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