Ivan Patzaichin was the greatest
Romanian canoeist of all time. All along his career he reaped 8 world
titles between 1970 and 1983, as well as 4 Olympic gold medals at the
five Olympic Games he attended between 1968 and 1984.
He was born on November 26th
1949 and in 1967 he signed up with Dinamo Bucharest Sports Club. He
was inspired by the performance obtained by three boys from his
native village in the Danube Delta who had earlier become world
champions in Berlin. Patzaichin obtained his first notable
performance three months later, when he came in second in the
national under twenty-one championship. A year later in 1968 he won
his first Olympic gold in the 1000 meter men's canoe double race
together with Serghei Covaliov.
Patzaichin made history at the Olympic
Games in Munich in 1972 after
his paddle had broken right at the beginning of the 1000 meter
qualifying race. The referees didn't
stop the race as regulations required, so Patzaichin had to use what
was left of the paddle to end the race three minutes after the first
boat. There was a lot of talk, but the Romanian was eventually
allowed to compete in the semifinals on September 8th
when he ended the race three seconds ahead runner-up
Czech Jiří Čtvrtečka.
The Romanian was 20 seconds faster
than the winners of the other series and became the odds-on favourite
of the finals race on September 9, where he obtained a clear win
almost four seconds ahead the runner-up, Tamas Wichmann of Hungary.
By the end of his career Patzaichin
won two more Olympic gold medals: in 1980 in Moscow and in the 1000
meter double race of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles four years
later together with Toma
After withdrawing from competitions,
Patzaichin coached Romania's kayak-canoe team for many years,
winning numerous medals in European, world and Olympic contests. He
later got involved in various projects of promoting the Danube Delta,
its people and traditions. He is staging traditional boat contests
and supports various projects on sustainable tourism in the region.
(translated by bill)