Rowing at the 1956 Summer Olympics – Men's eight

The men's eight competition at the 1956 Summer Olympics took place at Lake Wendouree near Ballarat, Australia.[1] It was held from 23 to 27 November.[2] There were 10 boats (90 competitors) from 10 nations, with each nation limited to a single boat in the event.[2] The event was won by the United States, the nation's eighth consecutive and 10th overall gold medal in the men's eight; the Americans had won every time they competed (missing 1908 and 1912). Canada took silver, its first medal in the men's eight since 1932. Australia repeated as bronze medalists.

Men's eight
at the Games of the XVI Olympiad
Rowing pictogram.svg
Rowing pictogram
VenueLake Wendouree
Dates23–27 November
Competitors90 from 10 nations
Winning time6:35.2
1st place, gold medalist(s)  United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s)  Canada
3rd place, bronze medalist(s)  Australia
← 1952
1960 →


This was the 12th appearance of the event. Rowing had been on the programme in 1896 but was cancelled due to bad weather. The men's eight has been held every time that rowing has been contested, beginning in 1900.[2]

The United States was the dominant nation in the event, with the nation winning the previous seven Olympic men's eight competitions (as well as the other two competitions which the United States had entered). Potential challengers included the Soviet Union (1952 Olympic silver medalists and European champions in 1953, 1954, and 1955), Czechoslovakia (1956 European champions), and Canada (1954 British Empire and Commonwealth champions).[2]

For the first time, no nations made their debut in the event. Canada, Great Britain, and the United States each made their 10th appearance, tied for most among nations to that point.

Competition formatEdit

The "eight" event featured nine-person boats, with eight rowers and a coxswain. It was a sweep rowing event, with the rowers each having one oar (and thus each rowing on one side). The course used the 2000 metres distance that became the Olympic standard in 1912 (with the exception of 1948).[3]

The 1952 competition featured four rounds: three main rounds (quarterfinals, semifinals, and a final) as well as a repechage after the quarterfinals.

  • The 10 boats were divided into 3 heats of 3 or 4 boats each for the quarterfinals. The winner and 2nd place boats in each heat (6 total) advanced directly to the semifinals, while the remaining boats (4 total) went to the repechage.
  • The repechage had 4 boats in a single heat. The top 2 boats rejoined the quarterfinal winners in the semifinals, while the bottom 2 boats were eliminated.
  • The semifinals placed the 8 boats in 2 heats, with 4 boats per heat. The winner and runner-up of each heat (4 boats total) advanced to the final, while the other boats (4 total) were eliminated.
  • The final round consisted of a single final for the medals and 4th place.


All times are Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC+10)

Date Time Round
Friday, 23 November 1956 16:00 Quarterfinals
Saturday, 24 November 1956 17:30 Repechage
Monday, 26 November 1956 15:30 Semifinals
Tuesday, 27 November 1956 17:30 Final



Quarterfinal 1Edit

All three eventual medalists came from this heat. The heavily favored United States surprisingly finished third, possibly trying to conserve strength for later rounds; this sent the Americans to the repechage.[2]

Rank Rowers Coxswain Nation Time Notes
1 Harold Hewitt   Australia 6:05.8 Q
2 Carlton Ogawa   Canada 6:07.1 Q
3 William Becklean   United States 6:09.1 R
4 John Hinde   Great Britain 6:23.9 R

Quarterfinal 2Edit

Rank Rowers Coxswain Nation Time Notes
1 Miroslav Koranda   Czechoslovakia 6:09.3 Q
2 Toshiji Eda   Japan 6:11.8 Q
3 Jacques Vilcoq   France 6:13.0 R

Quarterfinal 3Edit

Rank Rowers Coxswain Nation Time Notes
1 Bertil Göransson   Sweden 6:06.4 Q
2 Vladimir Petrov   Soviet Union 6:06.5 Q
3 Vincenzo Rubolotta   Italy 6:09.5 R


The United States won easily. Great Britain and France were eliminated.

Rank Rowers Coxswain Nation Time Notes
1 William Becklean   United States 7:09.9 Q
2 Vincenzo Rubolotta   Italy 7:17.4 Q
3 John Hinde   Great Britain 7:18.1
4 Jacques Vilcoq   France Unknown


Semifinal 1Edit

In a rematch of the quarterfinals, this time the United States came out on top of Australia, though the race was close. The other two boats in this semifinal, the Soviet Union and Japan, were both well behind the leaders and were eliminated.

Rank Rowers Coxswain Nation Time Notes
1 William Becklean   United States 6:55.1 Q
2 Harold Hewitt   Australia 6:55.6 Q
3 Vladimir Petrov   Soviet Union 7:18.3
4 Toshiji Eda   Japan 7:24.5

Semifinal 2Edit

Canada had little difficulty advancing. Sweden took second place to earn the last spot in the final.

Rank Rowers Coxswain Nation Time Notes
1 Carlton Ogawa   Canada 6:57.0 Q
2 Bertil Göransson   Sweden 7:08.4 Q
3 Miroslav Koranda   Czechoslovakia 7:12.9
4 Vincenzo Rubolotta   Italy 7:19.8


The start of the race looked as if it might be a replay of the first quarterfinal, with Australia and Canada battling for the lead and the United States in third, with a fourth boat (Sweden this time, rather than Great Britain) well behind. Canada took a clear lead just before the halfway mark. The United States, however, finally pulled ahead in the latter half and were able to hold off Canada. Australia kept close for most of the way but tired at the end.[2]

Rank Rowers Coxswain Nation Time
  William Becklean   United States 6:35,2
  Carlton Ogawa   Canada 6:37,1
  Harold Hewitt   Australia 6:39,2
4 Bertil Göransson   Sweden 6:48,1

Results summaryEdit

The following rowers took part:[1]

Rank Rowers Coxswain Nation
  William Becklean   United States
  Carlton Ogawa   Canada
  Harold Hewitt   Australia
Bertil Göransson   Sweden
Vladimir Petrov   Soviet Union
Miroslav Koranda   Czechoslovakia
Toshiji Eda   Japan
Vincenzo Rubolotta   Italy
John Hinde   Great Britain
Jacques Vilcoq   France


  1. ^ a b "Rowing at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games: Men's Coxed Eights". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Eight, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  3. ^ "Why Do We Race 2000m? The History Behind the Distance". World Rowing. 1 May 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2021.