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Motley Crew finish last, but are winners
Jim Morton
01:05 AEST Fri Aug 3 2012

The fairytale story of Australia's women's eight ended sadly, but the self-proclaimed "Motley Crew" still smiled like Olympic winners on Thursday.

They faded badly in the choppy water of troublesome lane one at Eton Dorney to finish last in their London Games final - the same position as their controversial 2004 and highly-touted 2008 predecessors.

However, crew leader Phoebe Stanley believed the sixth placing did not detract from their inspiring efforts to make it to the London Games.

Stanley was among a handful of seasoned rowers and women's sport advocates who played a vital role in having the boat recommissioned in April, after Rowing Australia didn't believe it was worth their while.

She said the emergence of four junior rowers - Hannah Vermeersch, Renee Chatterton, Alex Hagan and Tess Gerrand - and the extra attention given to women's rowing had made their quest a success.

"For me this campaign was always a bit bigger than the result we were going to get here and for me that's the big over-riding positive message we've got," Stanley said.

"I'm really proud we've managed to do that in the end.

"I think we really inspired a lot of young girls too, to fight what you believe in and hopefully continue rowing after school and hopefully open the door for future generations."

Four months ago Vermeersch had planned to be on a break from her studies, not rowing for her country.

"I couldn't ask for anything more," said the 19-year-old. "I've learned so much and nothing could take anything away from that.

"It would be really nice if we can continue the legacy and keep having women's eight coming through.

"If anything we've just proved that if you're not the pick of the bunch anything is possible and you can be right up there in the mix."

Stanley admitted the lane draw didn't help Australia as the cross-head winds buffeted their boat early as defending champions USA led home Canada and the Netherlands.

"Straight from the start we got blown over onto the border line and that took the edge off a bit."

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