Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Schinias Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre, Schinias National Park
Date Started: August 24, 2004
Date Finished: August 28, 2004
Cuba’s Ibrahim Rojas and Ledys Balceiro had won the C-2 500 at the 2001 and 2002 World Championships and the 2003 Pan American Games, but had lost the most recent World title to both Paweł Baraszkiewicz and Daniel Jędraszko of Poland, the 2000 Olympic runners-up, and Romania’s Silviu Simioncencu and Florin Popescu, the latter of whom was a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist and both of whom were the 2002 World and European runners-up and the 2004 European bronze medalists. Hungary’s György Kozmann and György Kolonics, the latter of whom was a 1996 Olympic champion, were the reigning European champions. All of these duos were medal possibilities in the event at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
The opening heats, however, were won by Germany’s Christian Gille and Tomasz Wylenzek, the 2002 European bronze medalists, and China’s Meng Guanliang and Yang Wenjun, who had allegedly only entered the Games to practice for future competitions. They, along with the Cuban and the Polish crews, who were runners-up in China’s heat and third in Germany’s heat respectively, advanced directly to the finals. Hungary and Romania, who had been fourth in Germany and China’s heats respectively, were sent to the semi-final, in which the latter defeated the former. The final was an incredibly tight race in which everyone except the final duo, Poland, crossed within 0.932 seconds of each other. After sorting out the chaos, it was determined that China had taken a surprise gold medal, its first of any color in Olympic canoeing, while Cuba had been runner-up by 0.072 seconds and Russia’s Aleksandr Kostoglod and Aleksandr Kovalyov, the 2001 European runners-up, had taken bronze 0.092 seconds later. This was not Kostoglod and Kovalyov’s first medal of the regatta, as they had taken silver in the C-2 1000 the day before.