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Rowing at the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Games:

Men's Single Sculls

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Host City: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Venue(s): Ringvaart, Sloten
Date Started: August 3, 1928
Date Finished: August 10, 1928

Gold: AUS Bobby Pearce
Silver: USA Ken Myers
Bronze: GBR David Collet


The reigning Olympic Champion in the single sculls and four-time winner of the Diamond Sculls (then the equivalent of a World Championship in the event), [Jack Beresford, Jr.], of Great Britain was not present at the 1928 Games, leaving the field in Amsterdam open. There were far more nations and competitors involved than there had been in Paris, but the favorite was probably Canada’s [Joe Wright, Jr.], who won the Diamond Sculls earlier that year and was the son of the great international rower [Joe Wright, Sr.]. In the opening round, Wright’s heat saw two of the three fastest times, with Wright edging out [Bert Gunther] of the Netherlands by half a second. The fastest time, however, went to Australia’s [Bobby Pearce], who demolished his German opponent, [Walter Flinsch], by 26 seconds with a time of 7.55.8. Pearce was a relative unknown who, due to the Henley Royal Regatta’s rules on amateurism, had been denied an opportunity to compete at that year’s Diamond Sculls.

Pearce was dominant again in the second round but, in a surprising turn of events, Wright was defeated in his heat by [Josef Straka, Sr.] of Czechoslovakia. Wright qualified for the quarterfinals when his opponent in the repêchage, [Michelangelo Bernasconi] of Italy (the 1927 European Champion), failed to finish the race. The writing, however, was on the wall, and his hopes of winning a medal were ended when he lost against [David Collet] of Great Britain in the quarterfinals. Pearce, meanwhile, defeated France’s [Victor Saurin] in the quarterfinals by 29 seconds despite stopping to let a family of ducks cross his path, which gave the Frenchman a five length lead. Pearce then bested Collet in the semifinals and advanced to face [Ken Myers] of the United States. The final was no contest\: Pearce handily won the gold medal by almost 10 seconds. In the third-place race Collet faced Gunther, who had come back strong in the first repêchage, and captured the bronze medal. The Amsterdam gold medal was the first major victory in Pearce’s successful career\: in addition to defending his Olympic crown in 1932, he was eventually allowed to compete in the Diamond Sculls, which he won in 1931, and also captured the title at the inaugural 1930 British Empire Games. In 1933 he turned professional and became World Champion, a distinction that he defended in 1934 and 1938.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Bobby Pearce 22 Australia AUS Gold
2 Ken Myers 31 United States USA Silver
3 David Collet 26 Great Britain GBR Bronze
4 Bert Gunther 28 Netherlands NED
2 h1 r5/7 Joe Wright, Jr. 22 Canada CAN
2 h2 r5/7 Josef Straka, Sr. 23 Czechoslovakia TCH
2 h3 r5/7 Édouard Candeveau 30 Switzerland SUI
2 h4 r5/7 Vincent Saurin 21 France FRA
2 h2 r4/7 Béla Szendey 25 Hungary HUN
AC h1 r4/7 Michelangelo Bernasconi 27 Italy ITA DNF
2 h3 r3/7 Arnold Schwartz 27 Denmark DEN
2 h1 r2/7 Walter Flinsch 25 Germany GER
2 h2 r2/7 Jacques Mottard Belgium BEL
2 h3 r2/7 Henri de Kok 26 South Africa RSA
AC h7 r1/7 Kinichiro Ishii Japan JPN DNF