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Kurt Wires

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 3
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
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(s) 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 Status Team Pos Details
1948 Summer Olympics Canoe Marathon (Canoeing) Kayak Singles, 10,000 metres, Men Olympic 2 Silver Representing Finland    
1952 Summer Olympics Canoe Marathon (Canoeing) Kayak Doubles, 10,000 metres, Men Olympic Yrjö Hietanen 1 Gold Representing Finland    
Canoe Sprint (Canoeing) Kayak Doubles, 1,000 metres, Men Olympic Yrjö Hietanen 1 Gold

Olympic Records

Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition.
Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos
1952 Summer Olympics 28 July 1952 Canoe Sprint (Canoeing) Kayak Doubles, 1,000 metres, Men Final Round 3:51.1 1

Other participations

Games Role Details
1952 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony Representing Finland