An ailing Murray Stewart has revealed he considered stepping out of Australia's gold medal kayak boat for Ken Wallace after being floored by a chest infection.
Stewart on Friday admitted a sinus problem dramatically worsened before Australia's Olympic K4 1000 final at Eton Dorney and a fever raised his fears that his poor health could jeopardise the crew's medal chances.
Beijing Games champion Ken Wallace could have been rushed into the boat with Tate Smith, David Smith and Jake Clear if required but Stewart backed himself to produce the goods.
Australia's K4 1000 success - the nation's first crew boat gold medal - highlighted the class and synchronicity of the crew.
"It's been a pretty bad chest infection and I've been trying to keep it under wraps a bit to try and not freak the boys out yesterday," said national champion Stewart.
"It's not ideal when you know one of the blokes in the crew is pretty crook.
"But I think I was running on adrenaline yesterday so hopefully I did my bit.
"It's just a testament to how amazing the other three are."
The severity of the Sydney paddler's problem was shown on Friday morning when he crashed out of the heats of the fast and furious K1 200m.
Stewart was sixth in his seven-boat heat, almost two seconds behind Canadian winner Mark de Jonge, to miss the semi-finals.
The 26-year-old, who also hid the illness through his K1 1000 failure on Monday, admitted his anxiety levels were high after running a fever on Wednesday night.
"Nervous would be an understatement - I was nervous just about doing the warm-up," he said. "On race day I gave it everything I had and today (in the K1 200) I paid the consequences."
Stewart said he knew Wallace, who finished fourth in the K2 1000 final with David Smith, could bring great physical strength to the boat but felt it was more important to back the quartet's well-grooved combination.
"If I wasn't going to be able to give my best I wanted the boys to go on without me but at the same time I made the call and knew the amount of training to get that synchronisation in the boat," he said.
"That feel probably outweighs the individual athlete's strength."