Tributes Continue for World Champion Snowboarder who Died while Spearfishing in Australia
8th July 2020
Last modified on May 14th, 2021
Alex Pullin, 32, was found unresponsive off a beach on Queensland’s Gold Coast on Wednesday. Tributes are being paid.
Nicknamed “Chumpy”, Pullin was Australia’s flagbearer at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
He was a two-time world champion – in 2011 and 2013.
He represented Australia in snowboard cross at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics.
“The man was spearfishing off Palm Beach. He was brought to shore by bystanders where he was treated by local lifesavers and paramedics,” said a statement from the emergency services.
As he was free-diving, he was not wearing an oxygen mask and was equipped with a weight belt.
He suffered a shallow water blackout shortly after 10.30am local time.
A shallow water blackout occurs when a person ‘faints’ underwater from a loss of oxygen.
“He didn’t have an oxygen mask, we understand he was free diving and spearfishing out on the reef,” said Gold Coast Police District Duty Officer, Chris Tritton, to local media.
“It appears he was diving alone. There were other divers out there but he was not with a friend.”
He was spotted unconscious underwater by a snorkeller.
He was treated by paramedics at the scene but could not be revived, authorities said.
Two weeks ago he posted a picture on Instagram of himself spear fishing.
Tributes to Chumpy
Tributes have been pouring in for a much-loved snowboarder.
Snow Australia, said it was “shocked and saddened”.
“Alex was a beloved member of the Snow Australia community and he will be dearly missed,” it said in a statement.
“An incredible athlete, beloved teammate and role model, you will be sorely missed,” the Australian Olympic Team, which Pullin had been part of three times.”
“Chumpy was a mentor to so many of our younger snowboarders, giving up his time to coach and provide advice to our future Olympians. His loss will be felt right across our community.”
“The world will miss such a talented human and a double world champion without ego and without selfishness who is everyone’s best mate,” wrote former Australian speed skater Steven Bradbury.
“Devastated. You brought joy and inspiration to so many in the snowsports community and across the world. To his family, friends, and everyone in the Mansfield & Mt Buller communities who were lucky enough to have Chumpy in their lives we mourn with you. Go well Chumpy.” said the ski resort of Mt Buller.
Pullin won world championship titles in 2011 and 2013.
He a represented Australia in snowboard cross at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Olympics.
The Australian Olympic Team’s Chef de Mission at all three Games, Ian Chesterman, described Alex Pullin as a natural leader:
“This is an incredibly sad day for us all. Chumpy was a champion bloke as well as being a champion athlete. He had great charisma that allowed him to be a natural leader.”
“He was always prepared to give his time to build winter sport in this country because he was so passionate about what he did. His enthusiasm was infectious and his impact on Olympic sport can’t be overstated.
:Chumpy will be greatly missed, not just within our winter sports family but by the so many people he impacted on both here and overseas. This is a desperately sad time for his family, his friends, teammates and all in winter sports. We are all devastated, and our heartfelt sympathies go to his loved ones.”
“Chumpy was a leader, a great champion and will be missed by all of the winter sports community both in Australia and around the World. It is very sad,”said Geoff Lipshut, Chief Executive Officer of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia.
“FIS would like to extend the deepest condolences to Alex Pullin’s family, friends and teammates, as well as to Snow Australia and the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia,” said the International Ski Federation, FIS.
He was a keen swimmer and surfer.