Tokyo Olympics: British Rowing’s post-mortem begins after missing gold for first time in 40 years

Credit: PA

An inquest is underway into the performance of Team GB's rowers at the Tokyo Olympics, after a disappointing showing for the sport.

It comes as British Olympics Association (BOA) boss told ITV News more than a year without a "significant competition" may have impacted the side.

On Thursday, the men’s eight came third, completing a disappointing regatta in which the team won only two medals - bronze and silver.

It's the first time since Moscow in 1980 that the British Rowing team has failed to win a gold.

Critics have highlighted that the rowing received more funding from UK Sport in the Tokyo cycle than any other sport.

It is also earmarked to receive a further £22 million in the cycle through to Paris 2024.

Double Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell told the BBC: "We come away from Tokyo, £27 million of investment in British Rowing, with one silver and one bronze.

“At a time when the national budget is under pressure from so many different areas, is that a good return on investment?”

Team member Mohamed Sbihi acknowledges that the huge amount of investment into rowing did not pay off

Team GB rower and opening ceremony flag bearer Mohamed Sbihi also recognised that the huge amount of funding didn't pay off.

He told ITV News: "We're one of the biggest funding teams...we haven't got the return.

"We feel that frustration as much as everybody else and we have to own that frustration and own our own results."

BOA chief Andy Anson defended the athletes' performance as chances of a gold medal began to dwindle.

Speaking to ITV News on Wednesday, Mr Anson said: "It's been a tough time for everyone".

BOA boss Andy Anson defends the rowers' disappointing performance

"They went through a period of 18 months where they didn’t have a significant competition," he added.

Mr Anson said the team is experiencing a "culture change" and "openly acknowledging that they're going through a transition".

Shortly after winning bronze with the men's eights, rower Josh Bugajski also alluded to transition.

He did not hold back, claiming he "popped a bottle of champagne" when head coach Jurgen Grobler left last year.

Great Britain's men's eight react to winning Bronze during the Rowing at the Sea Forest Waterway Credit: PA

Bugajski said a "much better era" follows the departure of Grobler, who coached eight gold medal-winning British crews across seven Olympics.

"There were people that he seemed to take a disliking to, and what he did to them was destroy them, destroy their soul, destroy everything. He had complete power," Bugajski said.

Bugajski also questioned selection over the past few years, saying "for some people, one mediocre result was enough to put them in a boat".

British Rowing performance director Brendan Purcell said he "could not speak for Josh" as he faced media after the final race.

Great Britain’s Helen Glover and Polly Swann finished fourth in the women’s pairs final. Credit: PA

Purcell also mentioned transition.

"We were talking with Jurgen about this is how we are moving forward and this is what we’ve got to do.

"During the pandemic after he got the guys into that space, he took his time and decided it was the right time to move on."

British Rowing performance director Brendan Purcell admits the final result was 'brutal'

UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday also weighed in on Thursday, saying the squad's performance would be reviewed, but there is plenty of promise for Paris in three years’ time.

"I totally understand why people would ask the question about the two medals, but I think we need to put this into perspective of the bigger picture for rowing," she said.

"They made eight finals, which is more than any other nation and had six fourth-place finishes, and they have got probably the youngest and least experienced squad that they have had in the last 20 years. And I think you need to put all of that in context."