Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Lake Sidney Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia
Date Started: July 21, 1996
Date Finished: July 27, 1996
Australia was the defending Olympic champion in the men’s coxless fours and sent three members of its victorious lineup, Mike McKay, Nick Green, and James Tomkins, to the 1996 Summer Olympics, augmented by Drew Ginn. The Australians were likely to face a strong challenge from Italy, however, whose delegation of Valter Molea, Riccardo Dei Rossi, Raffaello Leonardo, and Carlo Mornati had won the event at the last two editions of the World Championships. France, represented in Atlanta by Gilles Bosquet, Daniel Fauché, Bertrand Vecten, and Olivier Moncelet, were the 1993 World Champions and the 1994 runners-up.
The opening heats, and the three fastest times, went to Italy, Great Britain, and Australia in that order. The British crew, Rupert Obholzer, Tim Foster, and brothers Jonny and Greg Searle, were the 1995 World runners-up and the 1994 bronze medalists, while the Searle siblings had taken Olympic gold in the coxed pairs in 1992. They won their semi-final heat with ease, as France, Italy, and Australia all faced each other in the other one. This race seemed to promise an exciting final, with only 0.37 separating them at the finish line and only 0.04 seconds between first-place France and runner-up Italy. The medal round was a little more spread out, however, although the podium finishers were all still within one second of each other. Australia, the gold medalist, had the most leeway, while France and Great Britain battled to the line for silver, which the former won by only 0.25 seconds. Even for bronze, however, the British could not relax, for the Slovenians were on their tail and missed the podium by only 0.59 seconds. Italy, meanwhile, seemed to have tired and finished sixth and last.