MAIDENHEAD rowing legend Katherine Grainger agonisingly failed by inches to win another Olympic gold medal in Rio on Thursday.

The 40-year-old Glaswegian and her new racing partner, Vicky Thornley, led for much of the way in the double sculls only to lose out by less than a second to the faster finishing Poland duo in a sprint finish, and winning silver to the line.

“We knew we were ahead and we were feeling good, but we just couldn’t quite get there,” Grainger said. “But we can still be proud of what we have achieved.”

Grainger, Great Britain’s most successful Olympic rower, had retired from the sport for two years before deciding to make her comeback.

Having missed out on a place in the eight crew, she moved into the pairs with Thornley and they quickly struck up a good understanding in the boat, and that has shown in Rio this week.

They made a powerful start in the final and by the second half of the race it was a straight fight between Great Britain and the Poles, the two having left their other rivals well behind.

Grainger and Wales-born Thornley were moving superbly and took a three-foot lead over Poland.

They dug as deep as possible into their reserves of energy, but it was not quite enough and they were edged into the second place just before the finishing line.

For Grainger, who had won gold in London in 2012, it was her fourth silver medal, following Sydney, Athens and Beijing.

Villager:

PHOTO: Constantine Louloudis of Eton Boat Club will race in the fours final as a part of Team GB on Friday.

It is unlikely she will be around for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Team GB men’s four, including Eton Boat Club’s Constantine Louloudis, look a hot bet to win a gold or silver medal in their final on Friday (2.44pm).

They comfortably won the semi-final, leading all the way and never looking under any serious pressure. Louloudis, Alex Gregory, Mohammed Sobhi and George Nash were able to cost home in a time of 6mins 17secs.

That was six seconds slower than their main rivals, Australia, who won the other semi-final, but Britain certainly have the ability to pull out more in the race that matters.

The other quad of Peter Lambert, Jack Beaumont (both from Maidenhead), Reading’s Sam Townsend and Angus Groom could only finish fifth in their final.

They had done extremely well to get there, having had to go through the repechage, which meant they had one more race than their five rivals.

In lane six and with the breeze picking up, Great Britain were a little slow off the start, but a strike rate of 37 saw them in fourth place approaching the last 500 metres.

It was all or nothing, but they were unable to find anything extra and were fifth across the line, two and a half seconds behind Estonia, the bronze medallists.

Germany retained their Olympic title after holding off a strong late challenge from Australia.

Beaumont, a late replacement for Graeme Thomas who pulled out through illness, said: “We didn’t have the perfect run in to the event. We rowed as hard as we could and we gave everything.”

After the race Townsend dropped a strong hint that he will not be aiming to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.