JAMES McRae has become the most decorated athlete in the 103-year history of the Murray Bridge Rowing Club after winning a bronze medal at the London Olympics.
McRae and his Australian men’s quad scull team-mates - Dan Noonan, Karsten Fosterling and Chris Morgan - rowed their fastest race for the season to claim third place at Eton Dorney on Friday.
“We had an excellent race,” James said.
“We gave it our best shot to put ourselves in the race to go for that gold medal.
“We were definitely very happy with the race and to pick up the bronze medal.”
Conditions on the day were challenging, with crosswinds favouring the competitors in lanes five and six.
The Australians, in lane three, sat in fourth place until the 1500-metre mark, when a strong push got them into third.
They challenged for silver over the final 300 metres, but finished behind winners Germany and 0.44 seconds behind second-placed Croatia.
After the medal presentation, the winning crews paraded in front of the cheering crowd before catching up with friends and family members and launching into a series of media interviews.
“We’ll probably have a few beverages to settle our nerves and just let it all sink in and reflect on what we have done,” James said.
He thanked the overwhelming number of Murraylands residents who had sent him hero messages, including many from the Rambler Football Club and the Murray Bridge Rowing Club.
It was his second Olympic Games after Beijing, where the quad scull crew missed out on a bronze medal by 0.32 seconds after setting a world record in their heat.
James said staying in accommodation close to the course had given these Olympics a different atmosphere to Beijing, as had the more numerous Australian supporters.
The 26-year-old said he would move into the Olympic village for the rest of the Games and take part in the closing ceremony - he missed the opening so he could prepare for competition the next day - but was unsure of his future beyond that.
“I don’t have any concrete plans at the moment,” he said.
“I will spend a few months in the real world and take some time over summer to consider where I want to go from here.”
Rowing Australia feted the achievements of our country’s 12 Olympic rowing crews with a formal reception on Saturday night.
Between them they won three silver and two bronze medals - an improvement on their performance in Beijing.
Sports Minister and former amateur rower Kate Lundy congratulated the team members and thanked their families for their support.
Eight members of the Murray Bridge Rowing Club, the “Murray Cods”, represented Australia at the 1924 Paris Olympics and finished third in the repechage.