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Rowing at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's Single Sculls

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Events:
Phases:

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

Gold: URS Vyacheslav Ivanov
Silver: AUS Stuart MacKenzie
Bronze: USA Jack Kelly, Jr.

Summary

The favorite for the single sculls title at the 1956 Summer Olympics was Teodor Kocerka of Poland. In addition to having already won a bronze medal in the event at the previous edition, he had been European Champion in 1955, runner-up in 1953 and 1954, and had won the Diamond Challenge Sculls at the Henley Royal Regatta in 1955 and 1956. Not to be dismissed, however, was Vyacheslav Ivanov of the Soviet Union, who gained international attention by winning the 1956 European Championships. Other contenders included Perica Vlašić of Yugoslavia, the 1953 European Champion and 1954 Diamond Challenge Sculls winner, and Great Britain’s Tony Fox, a multiple Diamond Challenge Sculls winner and runner-up. There was also American Jack Kelly, Jr. (son of three-time Olympic rowing champion Jack Kelly, Sr.), making his third attempt to reach the Olympic single scull podium, having failed in 1948 and 1952.

With the exception of Fox, all of the tournament favorites survived the opening round, with Kelly posting the fastest time. In the semi-finals Vlašić, who had won his first heat with ease, lost steam and finished far behind Kelly and Stuart MacKenzie, the latter of whom had replaced 1948 Olympic champion Merv Wood despite having never competed internationally. MacKenzie proved his worth by leading through almost the entirety of the final, but an outstanding drive from last-placed Ivanov in the final section of the course saw the Australian lose the gold by over five seconds. Thus the Soviet Union defended the crown that it had won in 1952, MacKenzie earned an Olympic silver medal in his first international race, and Kelly finally earned an Olympic single sculls medal with his third-place finish. Kocerka, the pre-race favorite, finished fourth and off the podium. Ivanov was so excited at his win that, upon receiving the medal, he celebrated so much that he dropped it into the lake, where it was lost forever (the IOC, however, replaced it). MacKenzie would go on to get his revenge at theDiamond Challenge Sculls, however, by winning the tournament on six consecutive occasions beginning in 1957, leaving Ivanov as runner-up in 1957 and 1958.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Vyacheslav Ivanov 18 Soviet Union URS Gold
2 Stuart MacKenzie 19 Australia AUS Silver
3 Jack Kelly, Jr. 29 United States USA Bronze
4 Teodor Kocerka 29 Poland POL
3 h1 r3/4 James Hill 26 New Zealand NZL
3 h2 r3/4 Perica Vlašić 24 Yugoslavia YUG
4 h1 r3/4 Klaus von Fersen 25 Germany GER
4 h2 r3/4 Stefano Martinoli 21 Italy ITA
2 h1 r2/4 Nikos Khatzigiakoumis Greece GRE
2 h2 r2/4 Ferdinand Rabeder 25 Austria AUT
3 h2 r2/4 Tony Fox 28 Great Britain GBR
AC h1 r2/4 Jorge Roesler 32 Mexico MEX DNF