Host City: Montréal, Canada
Venue(s): Olympic Basin, Notre Dame Island, Montréal, Québec
Date Started: July 18, 1976
Date Finished: July 25, 1976
The favorite going into the single sculls event at the 1976 Summer Olympics was Peter-Michael Kolbe, who was the reigning World Champion and the last European champion (the tournament had been discontinued after 1973). One potential threat was Ireland’s Seán Drea, who had won three of the last four Diamond Challenge Sculls at the Henley Royal Regatta (Australian Ted Hale was the victor in 1976) in addition to a silver medal at the most recent World Championships. Another was Argentina’s Ricardo Ibarra, successor to the great Alberto Demiddi and Pan American champion in 1975. The defending Olympic champion nation, the Soviet Union, sent the relatively unheralded Mykola Dovhan.
Kolbe dominated the opening round; only Drea, who was in the same heat, came within five seconds of his time. Ibarra and Dovhan won the other heats, but with times that would not have automatically qualified them in Kolbe’s. In the semi-finals, Ibarra surprised the spectators by winning the heat in record time, with Kolbe coming in only 0.18 seconds ahead of East Germany’s Joachim Dreifke to claim the second qualifying spot. Not to be outdone, Drea came in nearly five seconds ahead of Ibarra to win his own heat, thus promising an exciting final. At first it seemed that the rowers might disappoint: for nearly the entire race, Kolbe led while the others trailed by a significant margin. In the last 100 metres, however, the then relatively-unknown Finn Pertti Karppinen launched a magnificent sprint and stole the gold medal from Kolbe. This result was even more surprising because Karppinen had only survived round one by winning the repêchage and had been the last qualifier in his semi-final heat. Kolbe therefore had to settle for silver while Dreifke, who came in over six seconds later, took bronze.
|2||Peter-Michael Kolbe||22||West Germany||FRG||Silver|
|3||Joachim Dreifke||23||East Germany||GDR||Bronze|
|5||Mykola Dovhan||21||Soviet Union||URS|
|7||Jim Dietz||27||United States||USA|
|4 h1 r2/4||Ulli Wolf||27||Austria||AUT|
|5 h1 r2/4||Reinaldo Kutscher||29||Uruguay||URU|
|6 h1 r2/4||Federico Scheffler||26||Mexico||MEX|