SUBC Tokyo 2020 Wrap Up

History made in Tokyo as four SUBC athletes win medals at the 2020 Olympics, including the first ever SUBC Olympic gold medalists

In the early weeks of July 9 SUBC athletes headed to Tokyo to begin their Olympic campaign and to see how they shape up against the rest of the world, after a year of next to no international racing. Despite the continuous challenges of the pandemic, it was a historic Olympics, not only for the Australian rowing team, but also for our club. Our athletes grabbed four medals, and there was at least one SUBC athlete in three out of four medal winning crews. This was the best medal result of any club in Australia and we are so proud of the hard work of our athletes. As Sydney entered a long lockdown, and all the supporters were at home, we came together to watch the amazing performances by our athletes, which saw every boat with an SUBC athlete finish top 8 in the world.

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After 3 consecutive Olympic silver medals, the men’s four which had 2 SUBC athletes, ALEXANDER PURNELL, and JACK HARGREAVES alongside Alexander Hill and Spencer Turrin, had an extremely thrilling race to win gold for Australia. After putting in a gutsy performance, and leading for majority of the race, they held on by 0.37 of a second to secure the win. Alex joined our club in Year 11 at school and Jack just after his HSC. Now after years of dedication and hard work, they have become SUBC’s first ever Olympic Gold Medallists. The club is incredibly proud of their achievements and cannot wait to see what the next few years hold for them.

Copyright: Rowing Australia


After winning a silver medal in Rio in the men’s quadruple sculls, CAMERON GIRDLESTONE has become the first ever SUBC rower to win medals at two Olympics, securing a bronze to add to his Olympic medal collection. After almost two years of no international racing, and only racing against other Australian crews, it was tough to know where they would sit in the field. After performing exceptionally well domestically, the quad had a competitive race but fought hard to claim bronze. An absolutely amazing result from Cam and his crew mates!


The women’s quad with SUBC athlete, ROWENA MEREDITH, had a bit of a different lead up to the games. In early May, Roo and the rest of the crew flew over to Lucerne, Switzerland to compete in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. After a convincing win and good international racing experience for the crew, they secured a place in the Tokyo Olympics. In the final at Tokyo, the crew fought hard and came from behind to secure a bronze medal.

Copyright: Rowing Australia

The amazing results didn't stop there...

GENEVIEVE HORTON, who was attending her second Olympics games, sat in the bow seat of the Women’s eight. After a tough heat, the eight went through the repechage to secure a spot in the A final. Gen and her crew mates were up alongside a very competitive field with Canada, NZ, USA Romania and China. They fought hard and stayed in the leading group of boats for majority of the race and finished with an incredible 5th place.

Copyright: Rowing Australia

Another dual Olympian and SUBC athlete, NICK PURNELL was in the men’s eight alongside young debutant JACK O’BRIEN. It was a tough field to come up alongside. Other competitors like Germany, New Zealand and Great Britain were going to be very fast. The crew had a great row in the repechage to make the final but were not able to match the top crews and finished 6th in the final – it may not have been the result they hoped for, but no doubt our club is very proud of their efforts. Nick Purnell has been a mainstay of our club since 2008, representing in two Olympics and winning many NSW Championships and seven Kings Cups. Nick is retiring and starting a new career in commercial property.