Anders Gustafsson’s younger brother Gunnar Gustafsson was given the task of driving the canoes home to Sweden from the Canoe Sprint World Championships in Poznan, according to a statement by the Swedish Canoe Federation.
But when the trailer carrying the canoes was driven into from behind outside of the northern German town of Lübeck the equipment was thrown across the four lanes of the motorway.
According to local news reports the canoes, belonging to the Swedish and Finnish teams, were then hit by at least four cars who were unable to stop in time.
The canoes have been completely destroyed including the one which carried Anders Gustaffsson to the gold medal in the 1,500 metre event on Sunday, ending a 46 year wait for the Swedes.
Two people were reportedly taken to hospital by ambulance, but according to reports received by the federation the injuries sustained are minor.
While the federation pointed out that the accident has resulted in significantly financial damage, it expressed satisfaction that nobody was seriously hurt.
“I uttered a swear word because I think it is so unfortunate for the competitors. The canoes are so personal for them,” Gunnar Gustafsson, who is an experienced truck driver, said after the crash.
The person at the wheel of the car which drove into the canoe trailer has been taken in for police questioning.