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Rowing at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's Coxless Pairs

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Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, Victoria
Date Started: November 23, 1956
Date Finished: November 27, 1956

Gold: USA United States
Silver: URS Soviet Union
Bronze: AUT Austria

Summary

Three of the last four European Championships in the coxless pairs had been won by Igor Buldakov and [Viktor Ivanov], who were runners-up in the year that they did not win (1954) and had taken the Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta (then the equivalent of a World Championship) in 1954 and 1955. This made them the heavy favorites in Melbourne, but they were not without challengers: Michel Knuysen and Bob Baetens of Belgium had won the 1953 Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup, the 1951 European Championships, silver at the 1953 and 1955 editions, bronze in 1956, and silver at the 1952 Summer Olympics. The United States was the defending champion and sent a strong team consisting of Jim Fifer and Duvall Hecht, who had earned their spot by defeating the reigning champions Charlie Logg and Tom Price. Alfred Sageder and Josef Kloimstein of Austria were silver medalists at the most recent European Championships, while Reginald Douglas and Bob Parker of New Zealand were the reigning British Empire and Commonwealth champions.

The United States was dominant in the competition: at no point in any round were they seriously challenged by another crew and they captured the gold medal with ease. Belgium was eliminated in the opening round following a surprisingly poor performance, while New Zealand failed to make the cut in the semi-finals, leaving the Soviet Union, Austria, and Australia to scramble for the final two podium spots. Australia began with a huge push that saw them briefly ahead, but they were soon overtaken by the Soviet Union, and then Austria, who earned silver and bronze respectively in a final where every finisher was separated by at least seven a half seconds.

Final Standings

Rank Team NOC Medal
1 United States USA Gold
2 Soviet Union URS Silver
3 Austria AUT Bronze
4 Australia AUS
3 h1 r3/4 New Zealand NZL
3 h2 r3/4 Germany GER
4 h1 r3/4 Denmark DEN
4 h2 r3/4 Italy ITA
3 h1 r2/4 Belgium BEL