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Rowing at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games:

Men's Single Sculls

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Host City: Helsinki, Finland
Venue(s): Mei Bay, Helsinki
Date Started: July 21, 1952
Date Finished: July 23, 1952

Gold: URS Yury Tyukalov
Silver: AUS Merv Wood
Bronze: POL Teodor Kocerka


The favorite in the single sculls event in Helsinki was Australia’s [Merv Wood], the defending Olympic and British Empire champion and two-time winner (1948, 1952) of the Diamond Challenge Sculls at the Henley Royal Regatta. Reigning two-time European Champion from Denmark [Erik Larsen] died shortly prior to the Olympics, leaving American [Jack Kelly, Jr.] (son of three-time Olympic rowing champion [Jack Kelly, Sr.]) as the sole gold medalist from that tournament to compete in Helsinki. Other notable competitors included [Eduardo Risso] of Uruguay, the defending Olympic silver medalist, Great Britain’s [Tony Fox], winner of the 1951 Diamond Challenge Sculls and runner-up in 1952 and at the 1951 Europeans, [Paul Meyer] of Switzerland, the reigning European bronze medalist, and [Ian Stephen] of South Africa, bronze medalist at the 1950 British Empire Games.

Fox, Wood, and Kelly won their heats in the opening round, along with [Yury Tyukalov], who was representing the Soviet Union in its Olympic début. Fox and Tyukalov were the winners in the semi-finals, while Kelly was eliminated in the repêchage after being bested in his heat by Poland’s [Teodor Kocerka]. Stephan and Wood rounded out the final, which quickly developed into a race for gold between Tyukalov and Wood. The Australian led the charge for the first half, but Tyukalov gradually picked up his pace, for which Wood had no response. Tyukalov therefore captured the USSR’s first Olympic rowing gold medal, while Wood had to settle for second place. Kocerka, then almost as unknown as Tyukalov, bested Fox by over three seconds to take home bronze.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Yury Tyukalov 22 Soviet Union URS Gold
2 Merv Wood 35 Australia AUS Silver
3 Teodor Kocerka 24 Poland POL Bronze
4 Tony Fox 23 Great Britain GBR
5 Ian Stephen 35 South Africa RSA
2 h1 r4/5 Paul Meyer 29 Switzerland SUI
2 h2 r4/5 Jack Kelly, Jr. 25 United States USA
2 h3 r4/5 Günther Schütt 34 Saar SAA
3 h1 r4/5 Rob van Mesdag 22 Netherlands NED
3 h2 r4/5 František Reich 22 Czechoslovakia TCH
3 h3 r4/5 Eduardo Risso 27 Uruguay URU
4 h1 r4/5 Henri Steenacker 26 Belgium BEL
2 h1 r2/5 Sevi Holmsten 30 Finland FIN
2 h2 r2/5 Henri Butel 23 France FRA
2 h3 r2/5 Ugo Pifferi 22 Italy ITA
2 h4 r2/5 Carlos Adueza 20 Chile CHI
3 h1 r2/5 Hussein El-Alfy 25 Egypt EGY
3 h2 r2/5 Juan Omedes 24 Spain ESP