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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another one of our young SUBC athletes on the team, TARA RIGNEY, only 21 years old, had a great campaign competing in the women’s double at her first Olympics. Tara and her doubles partner, Amanda Bateman came 3rd in their heat, and 5th in the semi to then head and contest the B final. After a gutsy race, they had a fast finish to win the B final and finish 7th in the world. A strong result in a competitive boat class.
CAMPBELL WATTS, who was selected as the men’s reserve in the team, raced the spares race on the first day of the regatta and finished 3rd! We are very proud to see Campbell back racing at such a high level after illness left him unable to complete the main selection trials.
The club is incredibly proud of every single one of our 9 rowers who represented Australia in Tokyo. Despite the challenges that arose, they raced incredibly well and made history for both the club and the Australian rowing team. SUBC can’t wait to see what the next few years bring.
We should also mention two former SUBC coaches who had key roles in the Australian Olympic Rowing Team. Mark Prater, who was at Sydney Uni from 2006 to 2016 was appointed to the NTC at the end of 2016 and coached the men’s quad to a bronze medal. Andrew Randell who coached at SUBC in the early 1990’s and from 2000 to 2006 coached the women’s quad – also to a bronze medal.
Two Boat Club Members to Represent Australia at the Tokyo Paralympics
Our Club congratulates JAMES TALBOT on his selection to represent Australia at the Tokyo Paralympics. We also congratulate long term club member LIZZI CHAPMAN who will coach the PR3 Mixed Coxed Four at the Paralympics.
Our Program Director CHRIS HOLLIDAY has been James Talbot’s coach since he came to row at Sydney University. Congratulations Chris on your work coaching James
James Talbot Lizzi Chapman