Gold Coast’s Ken Wallace claimed his third Olympic medal at the Rio 2016 Games. Alongside Games debutant Lachlan Tame the duo won bronze in the K2 1000m.
Coached by Jimmy Owens, the pair powered out of the start to sit behind leaders Germany at the halfway mark of the race. With Germany continuing to extend their lead, it was a battle for silver and bronze, with the Serbians holding off Australia, leaving Wallace and Tame to snap up bronze ahead of Portugal.
Wallace, a Gold Coast lifesaver who barely knew canoe/kayaking existed eight years before, made history by winning gold and bronze medals in the 500 metres and 1000 metres single kayak events respectively at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He was the first Australian to win medals in both Olympic forms of individual paddling at the same Games. In his second, gold-medal final, he defeated Canada’s Olympic champion Adam van Koeverden, unbeaten in the event since 2006, and his conqueror in the K1 1000m the day before, Britain’s Tim Brabants. After crossing the line to win gold, Wallace heaved himself from his kayak into the murky waters of the Shinyu course. “I was just stoked,” he explained later, “Suddenly the paddle was up in the air and I ended up going for a swim.”
After his 2008 win he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) and he was Australia’s most successful male athlete at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Wallace narrowly missed the opportunity to race the K1 1000m in London but raced the K2 1000m alongside eventual K4 1000m gold medallist David Smith. The pair only came together months before the Games and came within a boat length of winning a medal, finishing fourth in the London Olympic final.