Host City: Tokyo, Japan
Venue(s): Toda Rowing Course, Toda, Saitama
Date Started: October 11, 1964
Date Finished: October 15, 1964
The United States was the reigning Olympic and Pan American champion in the coxless fours. In addition to veteran Olympian Ted Nash, they also sent Geoffrey Picard, Dick Lyon, Ted Mittet, and Philip Durbrow. Germany, meanwhile, had won the last two European Championships and the inaugural World Championships, and sent their reigning European champions, Günter Schrörs, 1960 Olympic champion in the coxed fours Horst Effertz, Albrecht Müller, and Manfred Misselhorn to Tokyo. England had been the victors at the most recent British Empire and Commonwealth Games and, although Great Britain sent a different squad to the 1964 Summer Games, they were considered a medal contender in the coxless fours.
Germany had the most impressive run in the opening round, while Great Britain and Denmark won the other heats. Denmark was represented by the most recent European silver medalists: John Ørsted Hansen, Erik Petersen, Kurt Helmudt, and Bjørn Borgen Hasløv. The Americans advanced to the finals through the repêchage, but did not look strong compared to the other heat winners, Italy and the Netherlands. Three of Italy’s rowers, Romano Sgheiz, Fulvio Balatti, and Giovanni Zucchi, were bronze medalists from the 1960 Olympic coxed fours event (and Sgheiz was a champion from the same event in 1956) and, with Luciano Sgheiz, had won silver and bronze at the 1963 and 1964 European Championships respectively. The race for podium spots was close and exciting: just over two seconds separated the surprise gold medalists, Denmark, from the bronze medal-winning Americans, with the Britons sandwiched in-between with silver. This was the former rowing power of Great Britain’s first Olympic medal since 1948, as well as Denmark’s first gold medal since then.