Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Lake Sidney Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia
Date Started: July 22, 1996
Date Finished: July 28, 1996
Men’s lightweight rowing events were held for the first time at the Olympics in 1996, but they had been held at the World Championships since 1974. As World Champions in the lightweight coxless fours, the Italians, Andrea Re, Leonardo Pettinari, Ivano Zasio, and Carlo Gaddi, perhaps had an advantage in Atlanta, but no one would have counted out the Danish crew of Niels Henriksen, Thomas Poulsen, Eskild Ebbesen, and Victor Feddersen, 1994 World Champions and 1995 runners-up. The Americans, as 1993 World and 1995 Pan American champions were a threat as well; in Atlanta they were represented by David Collins, Jeff Pfaendtner, Marc Schneider, and Bill Carlucci.
The fastest time in the opening round went to the Canadians, Jeff Lay, Dave Boyes, Gavin Hassett, and Brian Peaker, who had been fourth at the most recent World Championships. The other heats were won by Denmark and the South African crew of Gareth Costa, Mark Rowand, Roger Tobler, and Mike Hasselbach. The South Africans were eliminated in the semi-finals, however, in a heat won by the Danes, while the tables were turned in the other heat as the United States edged out Canada for the top spot. The final culminated in a drive to the finish between Canada and Denmark, which the latter won by 0.55 seconds, giving its nation its first Olympic title since the 1964 coxless fours. Canada, meanwhile, captured silver comfortably ahead of the United States, the bronze medal winners.