Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Eton Dorney, Windsor
Date Started: August 6, 2012
Date Finished: August 8, 2012
The women’s K-4 500 event was introduced at the 1984 Summer Olympics, the only time in the competition’s Olympic history that the first two podium spots did not go to either Hungary or a German nation (Hungary and East Germany were among the nations that boycotted these Games). Since then the Germans (East Germany in 1988) had taken the gold medal every time but once, losing it to Hungary in 1992. In the World Championships, Hungary earned the title nine times and Germany or East Germany twelve times since its Olympic debut, with Hungary being the most recent; the last time another nation had been a World Champion was Bulgaria in 1977. Thus, without a doubt, Germany and Hungary were the favorites for gold and silver in 2012. The bronze medalist at the 2011 World Championships was Belarus, but the race for the third podium spot was far more open than that for either of the others.
In the opening round Germany and Hungary won their respective heats, but Hungary did so in a time that was slower than every team in the Germans’ heat, except for Poland. Portugal, as the next fastest team, qualified directly to the final alongside the two favorites for the race. In the semifinals Poland posted a world record to win the round and qualify for the finals alongside Belarus, Russia, Great Britain, and France. The final came down to a mad dash between the Germany and Hungary, but the Hungarians defeated their rivals handily, denying them a fifth consecutive gold medal in the event. In fact the Germans were nearly upset by the Belarusians, who finished just over a tenth of a second behind them to claim bronze. Thus, for the first time in 16 years, the German K-4 500 team left the Olympics with a silver medal.