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Rower Robbie Manson falls short of chance at Olympic medal

Manson and double sculls partner Chris Harris miss a spot in the finals.

Chris Harris, left, and Robbie Manson during the semifinals.
Chris Harris, left, and Robbie Manson during the semifinals.
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

New Zealand rower Robbie Manson and his double sculls partner Chris Harris fell one place short of securing a spot in the Olympics final when they finished fourth on Tuesday.

Manson, one of only 11 openly gay male Olympians, and Harris had a rough go in their semifinal heat, finishing 3.18 seconds behind the third-place boat from Britain. That was twice the margin that separated Britain from Croatia and Norway, who went 1-2. Only the top three teams made it through to Thursday's final group of six.

Manson and Harris won a bronze medal at last year's world championships and had a solid medal chance in Rio, so not making the finals was a huge disappointment. This is how the race was reported by a New Zealand website:

Manson sensed their rhythm didn't seem right as they dropped to fourth early in the race.

"But it's been like that before and we've still performed," he said.

"We're both absolutely gutted, there's not much more we can say

"We've trained for four years for this opportunity, we'd done everything right and we'd put ourselves in a position to perform."

Manson and Harris will race in the consolation bracket on Thursday.

Despite coming up short for a medal, Manson should be proud of the impact he has made on the issue of gays in sports. He received a lot of emails and messages since coming out in 2014.

"One of the best things about coming out publicly have been the messages and stories I have received from people who are going through or have gone through a similar thing and have said that my story has helped them in some way," he wrote.

Manson needs to be applauded for being open about who he is and for showing the world that gay men can compete at an elite level. I know that's not foremost on his mind right now, since he is a competitor, but competing on the world stage as an openly gay man is something that deserves all of our congratulations.