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Chumpy's partner posts heart-wrenching tribute to fallen Olympic star


The long-time girlfriend of Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, whose death while spearfishing at Palm Beach on the Gold Coast Wednesday has shocked the sporting world, has posted a handwritten note on the door of their Gold Coast home saying the world and Olympic snowboard champion was ”living his dream.”

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In a note at their Elanora home requesting respect for her privacy, Pullin’s partner, model Ellidy Vlug, wrote: “Know that Chumpy absolutely loved life and lived life to the full.

“He lived for us – his family, our puppy Rummi, our amazing friends and the home we made together.

“He was living his dream, our dream.”

Vlug, who was at Palm Beach with her mother as Pullin was pulled from the water and attempts were made to revive him, asked for privacy during her grief.

“I am eternally grateful that I have lived my life with him and I am deeply saddened that his life has been cut short.

“Rest in peace my beautiful man,” she wrote.

Pullin, 32, is understood to have suffered a shallow water blackout while spearfishing alone at the Palm Beach reef, just minutes from his home on the southern Gold Coast.

Locals have begun laying flowers at the beach near the reef, between Palm Beach and Tallebudgera, where Pullin died.

It is understood he was found unconscious on the sea floor by another diver. The diver alerted surfers who contacted lifeguards who brought Pullin to shore on a jet ski.

Volunteer surf lifesavers from nearby Pacific Surf Life Saving Club, who are trained health professionals, assisted in attempting to revive Pullin before the ambulance arrived.

Police said they were investigating the circumstances of Pullin’s death.

“We have specialists involved in that investigation,” Gold Coast Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said.

“Our dive squad police attended the scene and we will be preparing a report for the coroner. It’s an absolute tragedy.”

Pullin was 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 the Sochi Olympics in Russia in 2014.

As well as his 2013 world title, Pullin won gold at the 2011 World Championships and claimed bronze in 2017.

He was also a two-time World Cup winner and won silver at the 2016 Winter X Games.

Tributes have swamped social media since Pullin’s passing.

“The Snow Australia community is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of triple Olympian, Alex Pullin, who today lost his life while spearfishing on the Gold Coast this morning,” a statement from Snow Australia said.

“Our deepest condolences are with Alex’s family, as well as his teammates and support staff.”

Ian Chesterton, Australian chef de mission at the three Winter Olympics, 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,” Chesterton 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.”

Former world champion Australian surfer Mick Fanning remembered Pullin’s “heart and passion for life.”

“Brother, you were one of a kind!” Fanning posted to Instagram.

“Loved your can-do-it attitude yet your humbleness was always inspiring. May you Rest In Peace.

“The angels have gained a one-in-a-million human. Lots of love and light to your family.”

Australia’s first winter Olympic gold medallist and Olympic Winter Institute of Australia director Steven Bradbury said Pullin was a mate and they enjoyed surfing 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 said.

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

Zali Steggall, Australia’s first individual Winter Olympic medallist and a federal MP, also remembered the 32-year-old.

“We don’t get many athletes in winter sport of his standard,” Steggall said.

“Such a loss, very sad day for Aussie sport. My deepest thoughts to his family and team.”

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

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