Golden Scots: Wally Kinnear wins gold in Sweden, 1912

William Kinnear, single sculler, on the water at Stockholm, 1912
William Kinnear, single sculler, on the water at Stockholm, 1912

William (Wally) Kinnear rowed to gold in the single sculls at the Stockholm Olympics of 1912.

Kinnear was much-admired as the best single sculler in the world prior to the outbreak of World War One.

Early days

William Duthie Kinnear was born in landlocked Laurencekirk in 1880.

In 1902, he left Scotland for England and a career in the retail trade.

Best known to his friends as Wally, he was introduced to rowing by workmates and discovered a talent for single sculls.

From his introduction to the sport in 1902, Kinnear progressed rapidly, winning numerous titles with the Auriol Kensington Rowing Club.

He was a major figure in pre-World War One Thames rowing, winning the Wingfield Sculls in three successive years, 1910-1912 and the Diamond Challenge Sculls in 1910 and 1911.

He achieved single sculling's 'triple crown' in 1911, with wins in the Wingfield sculls, the Diamond Challengs sculls and the Metropolitan Regatta's London Cup.

Stockholm 1912

The single scull rowing boat or 'shell' is narrow and approximately 8m long, propelled by a single oarsman, using two oars, one in each hand.

The boats rely wholly on the considerable skills and strengths, both physical and mental, of the rower.

Having made his mark on the Thames, Kinnear was selected as part of the rowing team for the Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912.

The 1912 Official Olympic Games Report records that his style was "vastly superior to that of any of his opponents, his long, powerful strokes and elegant recovery being greatly admired."

The final, between Kinnear and Polydore Veirman of Belgium, took place on 19 July.

Although Veirman started well and built up an early lead, "Kinnear's long stroke, with its masterly recovery, brought the representative of Great Britain level with the Belgian oarsmen at the kilometre mark, and very soon afterwards Kinnear was a length ahead."

Kinnear maintained his winning margin and went on to take the gold medal in single sculls.

After Stockholm

Kinnear saw service during World War One with the Royal Naval Air Service.

With the ending of hositilities, Kinnear again took to the water and shared his knowledge and skills as a rowing coach.

Kinnear died in 1974, at the age of 93.

On 12 March, 2007 he was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.

At the Auriol Kensington Rowing Club in London, William 'Wally' Kinnear and his Olympic achievement are remembered by a plaque over a club entrance.

In 2011, Kinnear's son, Donald, visited the club with his father's gold medal to mark the annual three-day 'Henley row'.

Golden Scots

At the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games, Scots won gold in a variety of disciplines.

In addition to Kinnear, Angus Gillan and Philip Fleming shared the coxed eight victory. Henry Macintosh, triumphed on the track in the 4 x 100m relay, Robert Murray in rifle shooting and George Cornet won his second water polo gold.

Swimmer Isabella Moore also took gold in the 4 x 100m relay.

Find the stories of other Golden Scots via this link.