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Canoeing at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games:

Women's Kayak Singles, 500 metres

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Events:
Phases:

Host City: Helsinki, Finland
Venue(s): Taival Bay, Helsinki
Date Started: July 28, 1952
Date Finished: July 28, 1952

Gold: FIN Sylvi Saimo
Silver: AUT Gertrude Liebhart
Bronze: URS Nina Savina

Summary

Sylvi Saimo of Finland was the reigning World Champion in the women’s K-1 500 and the favorite to take the event at the 1952 Summer Olympics. The defending Olympic champion and most recent World runner-up, Denmark’s Karen Hoff, was not present in Helsinki, and her nation was represented by Bodil Svendsen, who had won World Championship medals as far back as the inaugural edition in 1938. The most recent Olympic runner-up, Lida van der Anker-Doedens of the Netherlands, returned in the hopes of nabbing gold, while Gertrude Liebhart of Austria was representing the defending Olympic bronze medalist nation. The opening heats were won by Saimo, van der Anker-Doedens, and Nina Savina of the Soviet Union but, in the medal round, the final stretch came down to a race between Saimo and Liebhart, with the former edging out the latter by only 0.4 seconds to claim gold. Austria thus settled for silver while Savina snuck ahead of van der Anker-Doedens to claim bronze. Svendsen, meanwhile, was fifth. One other notable participant was Therese Zenz who, representing the French protectorate of Saar (1947-1956), finished ninth, which was her nation’s second-best performance at the Games (behind Erich Schmidt’s joint-eighth in lightweight Greco-Roman wrestling). She would go on to win three Olympic silver medals for West Germany in 1956 and 1960.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Sylvi Saimo 37 Finland FIN Gold OB
2 Gertrude Liebhart 23 Austria AUT Silver
3 Nina Savina 36 Soviet Union URS Bronze
4 Lida van der Anker-Doedens 29 Netherlands NED
5 Bodil Svendsen 35 Denmark DEN
6 Cecília Hartmann-Berkes 21 Hungary HUN
7 Marta Kroutilová 26 Czechoslovakia TCH
8 Josefa Köster 34 Germany GER
9 Therese Zenz 19 Saar SAA
4 h1r1/2 Éva Marion 27 France FRA
4 h2r1/2 Shirley Ascott 21 Great Britain GBR
4 h3r1/2 Elsa Sidler 20 Switzerland SUI
5 h1r1/2 Anna-Lisa Ohlsson 26 Sweden SWE