|Date||11 August 1948 — 17:00|
|Location||Henley Royal Regatta Course, Henley-on-Thames|
|Participants||13 from 13 countries|
|Olympic Record||46:01.6 / Ernst Krebs GER / 7 August 1936|
Due to World War II, there had been no recent Canoe Sprint World Championships, which, at the time, was the best predictor of Olympic success in the sport. Gert Fredriksson of Sweden, however, had gained a reputation for his success in smaller European events and was considered the favorite in both this event and the K-1 1000, which he would go on to win the following day. Despite the time that had elapsed, three participants had won medals at the previous Olympics or World Championships: Ernie Riedel of the United States (bronze in the 1936 K-1 10000), Henri Eberhardt of France (silver in the 1936 Folding K-1 10000), and Czesław Sobieraj of Poland (silver in the 1938 K-1 10000). The Swiss entrant, Emil Bottlang, had also competed in the 1936 Folding K-2 10000, although he had not won a medal.
Due to the fact that the Henley could only accommodate a limited number of boats, and the International Canoe Federation forbade heats in races of this distance, the competitors began at intervals of 30 seconds. According to the Official Report, “[t]his decision, although inevitable, was not popular, since it is impossible for a competitor to judge his position relative to the others, and he is forced to race to the clock, an extremely difficult technique.” Fredriksson was the star of the event and won a well-deserved gold medal, and he was followed across the finish line by Finland’s Kurt Wires and Norway’s Eivind Skabo, who took silver and bronze respectively. Wires collapsed upon completion of the event and was not made aware of his second-place finish (due to the staggered start) until he was revived by Denmark’s Knud Ditlevsen, who came in fourth.