Sunderland shone as the K1 slalom competition got underway yesterday, finishing the qualification round as the fourth fastest and progressing through to today's semi-finals.
But despite his best efforts the 17-year-old couldn't reach the gold medal match, his time of 1:12.688 minutes not enough to beat eventual champion, Anze Urankar from Slovenia.
And although he lowered his time to 1:11.987 in his bronze medal race - the fastest time of his Nanjing adventure - Sunderland was once again second best as China's Song Huang finished third.
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But while a medal might have escaped his grasp twice on the final day of action in China, Sunderland believes he can leave with his head held high still.
"It was really tough and really hard work but literally threw everything I had into the bronze medal race," Sunderland said.
"It was the fastest time I have managed to do at the Youth Olympic so you can't be disappointed by that really can you.
"I knew it was always going to be tough but I just tried my hardest and that is all I could do.
"Straight after the race I was a little bit disappointed because you look at the times and it was so close, but a top four finish is fine and I am happy with that."
Canoe/Kayak Slalom
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