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Olympic snowboarding hero ‘Chumpy’ Pullin drowns while spearfishing on Coast

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Australian Winter Olympics snowboarding star Alex “Chumpy” Pullin has drowned while spearfishing at Palm Beach on the Gold Coast.

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Pullin, 32, reportedly suffered a shallow water blackout around 10:30am.

Pullin, an experienced free diver, was spearfishing on his own. It is understood his family were at the southern Gold Coast beach while he was out fishing on the reef.

He was spotted unconscious by another nearby fisherman who alerted a nearby surfer, who notified lifeguards who brought him to shore on a jetski.

Lifeguards and paramedics performed CPR for 45 minutes but he couldn’t be saved.

“Lifeguards provided CPR to the man until the Queensland Ambulance Service arrived and took over,” a City of Gold Coast spokesperson said.

Volunteer lifesavers from Pacific Surf Life Saving Club, including a couple who are trained health professionals and teenagers who were also at the beach near the Gold Coast’s new artificial reef off Nineteenth Avenue, assisted in the attempted rescue.

“The volunteer lifesavers involved have been offered peer support counselling and this support will continue for as long as needed,” a Surf Life Saving Queensland spokesperson said.

“Our thoughts are with the victim’s family and friends.”

Police are preparing a report for the coroner.

Pullin is a two-time world champion in snowboard cross and one of Australia’s most high-profile winter athletes.

He has represented Australia at three Olympic Games, and was Australia’s flag bearer at Sochi, Russia in 2014.

He was the first Australian snowboard cross rider to win the dual World Championship and World Cup titles in the same year in 2011.

Tributes immediately started flowing for Pullin following the tragic news. Australia’s first winter Olympic gold medallist and Olympic Winter Institute of Australia director Steven Bradbury said Pullin was a mate and they had surfed together.

“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 InQueensland.

“He was bound to be a positive influence on winter sports into the future and will be sorely missed.”

The Australian Olympic Team’s Chef de Mission, Ian Chesterman, said Pullin was 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,” Chesterman said.

“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.”

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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