Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): Virgilio Uribe Olympic Course, Canal de Cuemanco, Xochimilco
Date Started: October 13, 1968
Date Finished: October 19, 1968
Teams from Germany (unified, East, and West) had won the coxed fours event at the last two Olympics and World Championships and were considered strong contenders for the crown at the 1968 Summer Olympics. East Germany was the reigning World Champion and had been runner-up at the most recent European Championship, but it brought a new lineup to Mexico City (although Peter Kremtz and Roland Göhler were the 1966 World Champions in the coxless pairs). The most recent success for the West Germans, meanwhile, had come in the form of a silver medal at the 1965 European Championships. The other favorite was the Soviet Union who, with various lineups, had won the last three editions of the European Championships and been runner-up at the 1966 World Championships. The Italian team, always a factor, contained two Olympic silver medalists from 1964, Giuseppe Galante and Emilio Trivini, and an Olympic champion from 1956, Romano Sgheiz, who had also taken bronze in 1960.
East Germany dominated the opening round and maintained the fastest time through the semi-finals, although it saw challenges from the Soviets, the Swiss, and the New Zealanders. In the final, however, the New Zealanders took control of the race and, in an unexpected result, beat the East Germans to the top of the podium by over two seconds. East Germany settled for silver while Switzerland underwent a surprising drive and bypassed the Italians to win bronze by a margin of half a second. The victory was the first Olympic rowing title for New Zealand, its first medal since [Bob Stiles] and Fred Thompson had earned silver in the coxless pairs in 1932, and its third ever (Darcy Hadfield took bronze in the single sculls in 1920).