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Snowboard champion Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin passes away in drowning tragedy

Australian snowboard cross Winter Olympic athlete Alex Pullin has passed away. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
8th July, 2020
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Australian dual world snowboard champion and Winter Olympian Alex “Chumpy” Pullin has died while spearfishing on the Gold Coast.

Pullin was the flag bearer for Australia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Snow Australia says the community is shocked and saddened by the triple Olympian’s death on Wednesday.

“Our deepest condolences are with Alex’s family, as well as his teammates and support staff,” the body said in a statement.

“Alex was a beloved member of the Snow Australia community and he will be dearly missed.”

Ian Chesterman, the Australian team’s chef de mission for the 2020 Olympics, described Pullin as a natural leader, calling it an “an incredibly sad day”.

“Chumpy was a champion bloke as well as being a champion athlete. He had great charisma that allowed him to be a natural leader,” Mr Chesterman said.

“His enthusiasm was infectious and his impact on Olympic sport can’t be overstated.”

Former slalom ski world champion and independent MP Zali Stegall tweeted that it was a “very sad day for Aussie sport”.

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“We don’t get many athletes in winter sport of his standard,” Ms Stegall wrote.

NRL great Wendell Sailor described Pullin as “one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met”.

The Australian Institute of Sport passed on condolences to Pullin’s family, friends and the whole winter sport community.

Olympic champion Steven Bradbury said Pullin will be sorely missed and was everyone’s best mate.

“The world will miss such a talented human and a double world champion without ego and without selfishness who is everyone’s best mate – which isn’t always the case with elite athletes,” Bradbury told news website InQueensland.

Police have confirmed a 32-year-old man was unconscious when dragged from the water at Palm Beach around 10.40am on Wednesday.

“Another diver was out there and located him on the sea floor and raised the attention of nearby surfers who sought lifeguards to bring him in,” an officer told reporters.

“He didn’t have an oxygen mask, we understand he was free diving and spearfishing out on the reef.”

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Paramedics and lifeguards performed CPR, but he was pronounced dead just before 11.15am.

Pullin was raised in the foothills of the Victorian Alps in Mansfield, the support town for the Mt Buller ski resort

His parents owned and ran a ski shop in Mansfield and, according to his website, he learnt to ski at the age of three.

He took up snowboarding when he was eight.