Kurt Wires

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 3
RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameKurt Oskar•Wires (Virtanen-)
Used nameKurt•Wires
Born28 April 1919 in Helsinki (FIN)
Died22 February 1992 in Espoo (FIN)
Measurements176 cm / 74 kg
AffiliationsDrumsö Kanotister, Helsinki (FIN)
NOC Finland


Before World War II, Kurt Wires was a promising young kayaker, but his career was interrupted by the war. Wires served with the Finnish Army and lost his right eye during the Continuation War. Wires continued his sporting career after WWII and rose to be one of the top long-distance kayakers of the world. Wires first competed internationally at the 1948 Olympics, where he won a silver medal in K1-10,000, just half-a-minute behind the favorite Gert Fredriksson of Sweden.

Wires initially retired from sports after the 1948 Olympics, but made a comeback in 1952, when the Olympic Games were held in his hometown of Helsinki. At the Finnish Olympic trials he finished only third behind Thorvald Strömberg and Yrjö Hietanen and was not selected to the Finnish Olympic team in K1 events. Wires then teamed up with young and promising Hietanen to compete in K2 events at the Olympics, which they surprisingly won in front of the home crowd, beating the favorites Swedes Gunnar Åkerlund and Hans Wetterström by 0.4 seconds in the K2-10,000 event and a day later beating the favorites Swedes Lars Glassér and Ingemar Hedberg by mere centimeters in the K2-1000 event. After the Olympics, Wires retired from sports for good.

Outside of sports, Wires worked his whole life with the office equipment distributor Oy Konttorityö. Starting as a salesman in 1945, Wires was promoted to sales manager in 1954 and retired from the firm in 1987 as vice-president.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1948 Summer Olympics Canoe Marathon (Canoeing) FIN Kurt Wires
Kayak Singles, 10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
1952 Summer Olympics Canoe Sprint (Canoeing) FIN Kurt Wires
Kayak Doubles, 1,000 metres, Men (Olympic) Yrjö Hietanen 1 Gold
Canoe Marathon (Canoeing) FIN Kurt Wires
Kayak Doubles, 10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) Yrjö Hietanen 1 Gold

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1952 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony FIN Kurt Wires