Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Long Beach Marine Stadium, Long Beach, California
Date Started: August 9, 1932
Date Finished: August 13, 1932
Four years prior to the single sculls event in Los Angeles, Australian rower Bobby Pearce was a virtual unknown. By 1932, however, he had been an Olympic champion, won the Diamond Sculls at the Henley Royal Regatta (then the equivalent of a World Championship in the event), and had captured the title at the inaugural British Empire Games in 1930, making him the clear favorite. Pearce’s position was only strengthened when Germany’s Herbert Buhtz, the winner of the 1932 Diamond Sculls, fell ill and was unable to compete (he did, however, win a silver medal in the double sculls, alongside Gerhard Boetzelen). In both the opening round and the final, the only rower who was able to challenge him was Bill Miller of the United States, a silver medalist in the coxed fours from the 1928 Games. Miller was able to hold his own in both races and trounced his opponents in the repêchage. Pearce was simply the superior sculler, however, and successfully defended his crown with a time of 7:44.4. Miller, less than a second behind, took silver while Guillermo Douglas of Uruguay, despite finishing over 28 seconds after Miller, came in third and won his nation’s first individual Olympic medal (the country had won the 1924 and 1928 football tournaments). Pearce turned professional in 1933 and became World Champion, a distinction that he defended in 1934 and 1938. Douglas, Uruguay’s first rowing representative at the Olympics, returned home to a hero’s welcome.