| Event type

Double Sculls, Men

Date23 – 27 November 1956
LocationLake Wendouree, Ballarat, Victoria
Participants16 from 8 countries

There were no particularly obvious favorites in the double sculls event at the 1956 Summer Olympics. The reigning European Champions from the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Berkutov and Yury Tyukalov, were definitely in contention, but so were British brothers Sidney and Bill Rand, winners of the 1956 Double Sculls Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta (then the equivalent of a World Championship), and Murray Riley and Merv Wood of Australia, the reigning British Empire and Commonwealth champions. Finally, the United States, represented in Melbourne by Detroit Boat Club members Pat Costello and Jim Gardiner, could never be ignored in the double sculls.

The Soviet Union dominated the opening round, while the United States won its heat handily. Australia and the German duo of Thomas Schneider and Kurt Hipper, who had been runners-up at the most recent European Championships, came out on top in the repêchage and joined the two world superpowers in the final. There, the Germans took an early lead, but were quickly passed by the Americans, who were in turn overtaken by the Soviet Union before the halfway mark. The duo from the USSR never relinquished from that point on and captured gold over eight seconds ahead of the United States, who settled for silver. The Australians, meanwhile, gradually overtook the tiring Germans and secured a bronze medal. Riley and Wood were both police officers at the time, but their futures would take decidedly different paths: Wood went on to become the New South Wales Police Commissioner, but eventually had to step down due to his association with Riley, who served many years in jail for major drug-related offenses.

1Aleksandr Berkutov / Yury TyukalovURSGold
2Pat Costello / Jim GardinerUSASilver
3Murray Riley / Merv WoodAUSBronze
4Thomas Schneider / Kurt HipperGER
2 h1 r2/3Sidney Rand / Bill RandGBR
2 h2 r2/3Miguel Seijas / Paulo CarvalhoURU
3 h1 r2/3Fernand Steenacker / Henri SteenackerBEL
3 h2 r2/3Albert Krajmer / František ReichTCH

Round One

Date23 November 1956 — 15:30
FormatWinner of each heat advanced to semi-finals

Heat #1

1Pat Costello / Jim GardinerUSA6:54.5Q
2Sidney Rand / Bill RandGBR7:03.4
3Miguel Seijas / Paulo CarvalhoURU7:09.6
4Fernand Steenacker / Henri SteenackerBEL7:24.1

Heat #2

1Aleksandr Berkutov / Yury TyukalovURS6:44.4Q
2Thomas Schneider / Kurt HipperGER6:55.8
3Murray Riley / Merv WoodAUS7:01.2
4Albert Krajmer / František ReichTCH7:05.1

Round One Repêchage

Date24 November 1956 — 16:30
FormatWinner of each heat advanced to final

Heat #1

1Murray Riley / Merv WoodAUS8:12.2Q
2Sidney Rand / Bill RandGBR8:19.4
3Fernand Steenacker / Henri SteenackerBEL9:01.9

Heat #2

1Thomas Schneider / Kurt HipperGER8:16.7Q
2Miguel Seijas / Paulo CarvalhoURU8:27.5
3Albert Krajmer / František ReichTCH8:38.2

Final Round

Date27 November 1956 — 17:00
1Aleksandr Berkutov / Yury TyukalovURS7:24.0
2Pat Costello / Jim GardinerUSA7:32.2
3Murray Riley / Merv WoodAUS7:37.4
4Thomas Schneider / Kurt HipperGER7:41.7