Inductee - Grant Davies

Grant Davies

Grant Davies


The Olympic Games had never before seen a closer finish in any sport, nor had it witnessed one of the most gracious acts of sportsmanship than in the final of the K1 1000 metre Kayak final in Seoul 1988.

It was a dream come true for Grant Davies when he crossed the finish line with nothing separating he and American paddler Greg Barton. The scoreboard flashed that Davies had won and sparked emotional scenes in the grandstands.

His father Dick who had suffered horrific injuries after being knocked off his bicycle the year before, made the trip over and was sitting in his wheelchair next to Grant's mother and new wife Sally. Dick had promised his son that if he won a medal he would stand up out of his wheelchair and applaud. True to his word he pulled himself up, steadying himself on the rail in front of him and clapped excitedly until he could stand no longer.

Eleven minutes after Grant's triumph the sad truth began to unfold. An official informed him that there had been a mistake, and that it was Barton who had won and that he would be relegated to second place. Computer projections based on the electronically enlarged photo-finish calculated the difference between gold and silver to be five one thousands of a second or 8 millimetres in length. It was the narrowest winning margin in Olympic history.

Grant Davies didn't win gold but he won the hearts of millions with his sportsmanship. What he said in an interview will go down in Olympic folkfore "The other bloke won it fair and square so what can you say, good luck to him. If this is the biggest disappointment of my life then I've got no worries."

The year after, the Australian Olympic Federation created a special award for fair play and outstanding sportsmanship. It was presented to Grant and has not been won since.

Grant won five Queensland and five Australian Kayak Championships in his career. He also paddled surf skis for Northcliffe Surf Lifesaving Club taking out nine state and four national titles.