James McRae brought a world of experience to the Rowing section at the Rio Games, competing in his third Games in the men’s quad scull. Alongside crew mates Alexander Belonogoff, Cameron Girdlestone and Karsten Forsterling, McRae claimed his second Olympic medal (silver), falling just short of reigning Olympic and World Champions Germany who took home the gold.
The quad secured a prime lane three position in the A final after blitzing their heat, but Germany were not to be discounted in lane one. As they approached the final 500 metres, the Australians continued to hunt down the Germans and as they approached the line the crew were within touching distance of the reigning champions. Despite going in as favourites, it wasn’t to be for the Australians as they fell 1.15sec short to take home the silver medal, and Estonia bronze.
McRae rowed in his Olympic debut in the quad scull as a 21-year-old in Beijing. At the 2008 Games, McRae and his teammates set a new world record in the heats but finished just outside the medals in fourth position in the final.
The South Australian rower has competed in four World Championships, winning bronze in 2010 before snagging the gold in 2011 in Slovenia. The win established the Aussie quad scull crew of Daniel Noonan, Karsten Forsterling and Chris Morgan as the ones to beat at the London 2012 Games. At London, the Aussies were fourth at the half way mark but had a strong finish to claim bronze.
Post London, the 29-year-old started competing in the double sculls in 2014, taking two World Cup medals and bronze at the 2015 World Championships. Along with his doubles partner, Alexander Belonogoff, McRae has moved back to the quad boat for his third Olympic campaign.
McRae competed in the 2003 and 2005 Australian Youth Olympic Festival, showing his versatility as a young rower competing in the singles scull, quad scull and men's eight.