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Rowing at the 1948 London Summer Games:

Men's Single Sculls

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Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Henley Royal Regatta Course, Henley-on-Thames
Date Started: August 5, 1948
Date Finished: August 9, 1948
Format: 1,929 metres

Gold: AUS Merv Wood
Silver: URU Eduardo Risso
Bronze: ITA Romolo Catasta

Summary

All three winners of the Diamond Challenge Sculls since World War II, Jean Séphériadès of France, Jack Kelly, Jr. of the United States (son of three-time Olympic rowing champion Jack Kelly, Sr.), and Australian Merv Wood, were present to contend for the Olympic single sculls crown at the 1948 tournament. Kelly had also been the runner-up in 1946, while Séphériadès was the 1947 European Champion. Wood, meanwhile, had represented his nation in the coxed eights at the 1936 Games. Another notable competitor was Hans Jakob Keller of Switzerland, the 1947 European bronze medalist.

Width restrictions at Henley meant that only three boats could compete at one time. When the waves had calmed after the round one repêchage, the only surprising absentee was Keller; all the other major contenders had advanced with ease. The three-boat limit meant that only the medalists would advance to the final, and Séphériadès had the misfortune of being placed in Wood’s head, where he was defeated handily. More surprising was Eduardo Risso of Uruguay’s victory in the semi-finals, since he edged out Kelly by 0.4 seconds after coming up dramatically from behind (Kelly’s time, however, would not have been sufficient to best any of the semi-final winners). Taking the first semi-final heat was the equally-unheralded Romolo Catasta of Italy, who recorded the fastest time of the round and finished ahead of Argentina’s Tranquilo Capozzo (who would earn a gold medal in the double sculls in 1952) by over seven seconds. The final, meanwhile, was no contest: Wood finished nearly 14 seconds ahead of Risso, who in turn was over 13 seconds ahead of Catasta. Risso’s silver was an improvement on Uruguay’s previous best rowing result at the Olympics; Guillermo Douglas had won bronze in the single sculls in 1932.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Merv Wood 31 Australia AUS Gold
2 Eduardo Risso 23 Uruguay URU Silver
3 Romolo Catasta 25 Italy ITA Bronze
2 h1 r3/4 Tranquilo Capozzo 30 Argentina ARG
2 h2 r3/4 Jack Kelly, Jr. 21 United States USA
2 h3 r3/4 Jean Séphériadès 26 France FRA
3 h1 r3/4 Ian Stephen 31 South Africa RSA
3 h2 r3/4 Tony Rowe 23 Great Britain GBR
2 h1 r2/4 Juan Omedes 20 Spain ESP
2 h2 r2/4 Hans Jakob Keller Switzerland SUI
2 h3 r2/4 Mohamed El-Sayed 24 Egypt EGY
3 h1 r2/4 Faidon Matthaiou 24 Greece GRE
3 h2 r2/4 Curt Brunnqvist 23 Sweden SWE
3 h3 r2/4 Dragutin Petrovečki Yugoslavia YUG