Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Venue(s): Misari Regatta Course, Hanam
Date Started: September 27, 1988
Date Finished: October 1, 1988
East Germany had failed to win the K-4 500 at the World Championships only twice since 1974 and was the overwhelming favorite to take the title at the 1988 Summer Olympics. Romania had won the inaugural Olympic crown in 1984, but had done so in the absence of most of the world canoeing powers due to the Soviet-led boycott and did not enter a team at the 1988 Games. Hungary, meanwhile, had been the 1986 World Champion and sent its victorious squad of Erika Géczi, Erika Mészáros, Éva Rakusz, and Rita Kőbán to Seoul. These two squads won their heats in the opening round, with the Hungarians posting the fastest time by 0.36 seconds. In the final, however, East Germany was the stronger crew and won gold by a margin of over one second. Hungary, meanwhile, came in for silver comfortably ahead of Bulgaria, who took bronze. Two members of the East German team, Anke Nothnagel and Birgit Schmidt, had already won the K-2 500 and thus became double Olympic champions, while the latter was also the runner-up in the K-1 500. Diana Paliyska and Vanya Gesheva of Bulgaria had been runners-up in the K-2 500, while the latter earned a full complement of medals by winning the K-1 500.