WALTHAM CROSS, England (Reuters) - The contrast between Olympics winners and losers was graphically illustrated at the canoe slalom venue on Wednesday.
As kayak single gold medal winner Daniele Molmenti's smile lit up the mixed zone where reporters interview the athletes, distraught French rival Etienne Daille burst into tears.
The 22-year-old led the World Cup standings coming into London but despite being tipped for a medal he could manage only seventh at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Nothing opens doors to extra funding and sponsorship more than an Olympic medal, and media student Daille now fears he may struggle to stay afloat financially.
"I'm really worried, I'm just scared for the future of my sporting career," he told Reuters. "I just hope I'll be able to find enough financing to go on."
While Italian Molmenti said he might go out and buy himself a new Ducati motorcycle to celebrate his gold, Daille was left to fret about the financial burden of a sport that involves lots of travel and expensive kit.
"I'm just a student you know and before the Olympics, my club and local authorities were helping me because I don't have any private sponsors," he said.
"I'm a studying sport (media) and now I'm afraid that my performance today will not allow me to go on."
His hopes faded when he touched a gate early in his run and he admitted he had not performed as he wanted.
"This was my first appearance at the Olympics and I'm deeply disappointed because I was aiming for a podium," he said.
"This is the worst final I've done this season. I'm the current leader of the World Cup and I should have been in a situation to get a medal."
"I took too many risks. Maybe I was too much under pressure."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; additional reporting by Olivier Guillemain; editing by Justin Palmer)