The fairytale script was supposed to help Sarah Cook claim the Olympic Games medal she desperately craved but the rowing Gods left the Canberran ''gutted'' in London.
The women's eight and their against-the-odds journey to the Olympic final came to a screeching halt when they finished last at Eton Dorney.
It wasn't the way Cook planned to end the draining and emotional journey. But ''unfair'' conditions and the toll of fighting everyone's expectations for the past seven months took their toll.
''You want to walk away from the regatta knowing you've had the best race you could possibly have,'' Cook said. ''But the conditions were unfair, we put it all out there, we did the best race we could have executed and had the conditions been fair we would have had a different outcome. It's unfair and it's hard to swallow, but we did the best we could.''
There were tears and hugs as the crew crossed the finish line last.
But the women's eight will be remembered for its fight just to get to the Games, not its flop in the final.
Cook hoped it would leave a legacy and set the team up for the 2016 campaign.
Rowing Australia refused to enter the boat into Olympic qualification until it did a backflip in April.
Despite setting its sights on a medal, the Australian team was never in the running as the United States stormed to gold.
Australia held on to fourth until the halfway mark, but was passed by Romania and the stiff cross-wind - which affected the Australian lane most - took its toll.
Cook also missed out on a medal at the 2008 Olympics.
''It's hard to leave [the Olympics] without what you came here to get,'' Cook said.
''What we've done for Australian women's rowing going to Rio can't be underestimated. There were a lot of tears and hugs … there's no regrets.''
The race will likely be the end of Cook's immediate rowing career.
She is keen to take a break from the sport to recover after more than a decade training for national selection. Had the women's eight won a medal, Cook would have contemplated retirement.
''But I haven't done that so the fire will definitely still be burning,'' she said.
■ MEANWHILE, Australia continued its strong form in the rowing regatta at the London Games with a silver and bronze medal last night.
Australia's women's double sculls crew of Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley won silver, edged out by Great Britain's Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, and Australia's men's quadruple sculls crew of Dan Noonan, James McRae, Karsten Forsterling and Chris Morgan won bronze.