Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Schinias Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre, Schinias National Park
Date Started: August 23, 2004
Date Finished: August 27, 2004
Hungary had won the K-4 500 at the last four editions of the World Championships, as well as at two of the last three European championships, and was considered the favorites for the event at the 2004 Summer Olympics, despite having lost that year’s European championships to Ukraine. Germany, meanwhile, was the two-time defending Olympic champion and, with Birgit Fischer on its team in her sixth and final Olympics, it was certain to go all out for the gold medal. Germany and Hungary faced each other in the first opening heat, in which the former emerged victorious by 0.692 seoncds, while Ukraine was second to Poland in the other heat, although all advanced directly to the final. The race came down, as expected, to a furious battle between the two favorities, with Germany coming out on top once again by a margin of only 0.196 seconds. This made Fischer the oldest Olympic canoeing champion, a distinction made even more notable by the fact that she had been the youngest Olympic canoeing champion when she won the K-1 500 in 1980. Ukraine took bronze, edging Poland out of the last podium spot by an even slimmer margin of 0.184 seconds. Fischer and one of her teammates, Carolin Leonhardt, would go on to take silver in the K-2 500 the following day, while Hungary’s Katalin Kovács got at least a little revenge by taking gold in that event.