Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, Victoria
Date Started: December 1, 1956
Date Finished: December 1, 1956
Sweden’s [Gert Fredriksson], two-time Olympic (1948 and 1952) and World (1950 and 1954) Champion in the K-1 1000 returned to the Olympics in 1956 as a strong favorite to defend his crown. On the day prior to the event, he had reclaimed the Olympic title in the K-1 10000 that he had won in 1948 and then lost in 1952. One potentially strong challenger was Finland’s [Thorvald Strömberg], the reigning Olympic runner-up and a man who had already performed the rare feat of besting Fredriksson in a race twice, by defeating him in the K-1 10000 at both the 1950 World Championships and the 1952 Summer Olympics. Other contenders included [Louis Gantois] of France, the 1952 Olympic bronze medalist and 1954 World runner-up, and [Lajos Kiss], who was representing the reigning World bronze medalist nation of Hungary.
The opening round, however, brought several surprises. In the first heat, Fredriksson was nearly defeated by the Soviet Union’s [Igor Pisarev] and managed to eke out a victory by only 0.2 seconds, while Strömberg, suffering from stomach problems, was eliminated. In the next, both Kiss and Gantois were bested by a relatively unknown [Stefan Kapłaniak] of Poland, although, since every competitor in that heat advanced, it was likely that the others were merely conserving their strength. The final heat had no obvious favorites and was won by Germany’s [Ernst Steinhauer], a World Champion in the K-2 500 and bronze medalist in the K-2 10000. In the final, Fredriksson took charge and defeated Pisarev with ease, earning his fifth gold medal and his third straight in the K-1 1000. The Soviet thus settled for silver, while Kiss took bronze a good distance ahead of Kapłaniak, who was fourth.
|2||Igor Pisarev||25||Soviet Union||URS||Silver|
|4 h1 r1/2||Knut Østby||34||Norway||NOR|
|4 h3 r1/2||David Merwin||20||United States||USA|
|5 h1 r1/2||Thorvald Strömberg||25||Finland||FIN|
|6 h1 r1/2||Robert Smith||27||Canada||CAN|