Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, Victoria
Date Started: November 23, 1956
Date Finished: November 27, 1956
Since the last Olympics, no country had won the European Championships in the coxed fours more than once, leaving the 1956 Olympic tournament relatively open. The previous edition’s champions, Italy, had only appeared on the podium once since then, with a third place finish at the 1956 European Championships, while only the Soviet Union had managed more than two podium finishes in the tournament in the past four years. The Australians, with the assistance of Merv Wood, had won the event at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, but they had changed their entire lineup by the time of the Melbourne Olympics, as had the runner-up New Zealanders.
The opening round heats were won by Italy, the United States, and Sweden, the latter of whom had sent their silver medal-winning lineup from the 1955 European Championships. Italy and Sweden then won their semi-final heats, although the latter did so in a slower time than Australia had come runner-up in Italy’s heat. Finland rounded out the final four, leaving the two world superpowers behind. The final was fairly uneventful: Italy led from the beginning and won the gold medal, while Sweden pulled in comfortably ahead of Finland to take silver. Sweden’s silver was its second rowing medal ever (its first having been the silver it earned in the inriggers coxed four event that made its sole appearance in 1912) and, as of 2012, its most recent.