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Rowing at the 1976 Montréal Summer Games:

Men's Single Sculls

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Host City: Montréal, Canada
Venue(s): Olympic Basin, Notre Dame Island, Montréal, Québec
Date Started: July 18, 1976
Date Finished: July 25, 1976

Gold: FIN Pertti Karppinen
Silver: FRG Peter-Michael Kolbe
Bronze: GDR Joachim Dreifke

Summary

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.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Pertti Karppinen 23 Finland FIN Gold
2 Peter-Michael Kolbe 22 West Germany FRG Silver
3 Joachim Dreifke 23 East Germany GDR Bronze
4 Seán Drea 29 Ireland IRL
5 Mykola Dovhan 21 Soviet Union URS
6 Ricardo Ibarra 25 Argentina ARG
7 Jim Dietz 27 United States USA
8 Ted Hale 28 Australia AUS
9 Hans Svensson 20 Sweden SWE
10 Fabrizio Biondi 21 Italy ITA
11 Walter Lambertus 20 Romania ROU
12 Claude Dehombreux 36 Belgium BEL
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