The burly oarsman admitted the last time he cried in public was after the death of his grandfather but the emotion of losing to Britain in the Olympic regatta's blue-riband coxless fours and the realisation that he could be staring retirement in the face proved an emotional wrench.
At 37 years old, he acknowledged the impact on both his body and his family may be too great to consider another four years dedicated effort on the long road to Rio and another shot at a record fourth Olympic title.
"I would love to go on, but it takes a lot," he said, trying to hold back the tears.
"It takes its toll. I always said I would take time. But the reality is I have had two back surgeries... We'll sit down and discuss it all. You have to have the motivation to go on and I'm not sure I have.
"My reminder beforehand was never to make a decision on emotions. For me it has always been about getting it in perspective. Given what I have been through now I just don't see my body holding up."
Ginn won his maiden gold in Atlanta in the original "Oarsome Foursome" coxless four before tasting success in the coxless pair in Athens and Beijing.
His hopes of leaving another mark in the record books were ended, however, when his team mates William Lockwood, James Chapman and Joshua Dunkley-Smith came up against a ruthlessly determined British four who powered to gold in front of a ear-splitting home crowd.
"The last time I cried in public was my grandfather dying, so where did that come from," he added.
"It's just my kids and wife are here so it means a lot," he added before pulling a photo wrapped in plastic of his two children Jasper and Kyra from his pocket.
"We do this because we love it. But how deep we have to dig in training is enormous. People have been in tears in training sessions so for me to have them after the race is not a surprise. It just shows it means a lot for us.
"My kids said to me they'll be happy if I win a gold medal, but they'll also be happy whatever I do, such perspective at 11 and 7."
It was a day when the tears flowed freely on Dorney Lake in a demonstration that the emotional wrench of defeat can be every bit as powerful as the elation of victory.
Britain's Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase also broke down after being edged out in a tense finish in the men's lightweight double sculls.
Hunter, who along with his team mate, won gold in Beijing had to be hauled off the pontoon by five-times Olympic champion Steve Redgrave after rolling out of his boat and lying prostrate on the floor as he absorbed the full agony of defeat.
Having led for most of the race, the British duo were overtaken just metres from the line by Danish pair Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist.
"We feel like we failed today," Hunter said. "It was heartbreaking not to be able to do it.
"There was nothing in the tank, we couldn't do any more.
"When I rolled out of the boat I couldn't physically move. Everything hits you at once, the emotional, physical and mental, and the emotional side comes in and hits you hard."
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