The Opals continued the horror run of Australia’s Olympics team, bowing out with a 73-71 quarter-final loss to Serbia this morning.
That’s two hockey teams, two water polo teams and one basketball team out without a single medal.
But sailor Tom Burton stopped the rot, scoring a gold in the men’s lasers on the water, while Sydney cousins Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse claimed silver in the nacra 17 mixed medal race.
Burton’s gold was as close to a miracle as wins come. He needed to finish five boats ahead of overall leader, Tonci Stipanovic of Croatia.
In an extraordinary start, Burton made a move that forced Stipanovic to chase him out early and in all the haste, he hit the Aussie’s boat and was forced to head back for a penalty turn.
And yes, it was a deliberate move.
“The percentage chances that I could pull it off was pretty slim,” Burton said after the race.
“You want to do it and you want it to come off, but we see this at many Olympics and many other championships, it’s quite easy to slow a guy down.
“For the one move I needed to come off, that was critical to the race.”
The Opals may have a case for complaint, after leading Serbia for most of the match only to go down under the weight of turnovers and fouls in the dying minutes.
Liz Cambage was a target for the Serbians from the outset, but still managed 29 points and 11 rebounds. It was her final play where she was dumped to the ground after drawing the Opals to within a point which summed up the Aussie’s night.
Cambage was denied a free throw and the Opals then fouled at the other end, where Serbia’s Ana Dabovic hit one. With 10 seconds on the clock, Australia ran the ball up and Leilana Mitchell and Marianna Tolo both watched their attempts bounce off the rim.
It was a disappointing final game for Opals captain Penny Taylor, who managed just two points.
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