SYDNEY (Reuters) – Former snowboard world champion Alex Pullin, who died on Wednesday at the age of 32, will be missed as much for his personality as for his sporting prowess, Australian Olympic Committee Vice President Ian Chesterman said on Thursday.
Pullin, the son of ski hire shop owners who was known from a young age as “Chumpy”, drowned while spear-fishing on the coast of Queensland, plunging Australia’s winter sports community into mourning.
“He leaves behind an incredible mark, and he will be sadly missed not just in Australia but indeed overseas,” Chesterman, who has led Australia’s team at six Winter Olympics, told reporters in Launceston.
“His impact has been huge globally because not only of his performances but also his personality and I know that there’s a sense of great loss amongst that community overseas as well as here.”
Pullin competed at three Olympics and carried Australia’s flag at the opening ceremony at the 2014 Games in Sochi. He was world snowboard cross champion in 2011 and 2013 and also won the overall World Cup titles in those years.
“‘Chumpy’ Pullin was a champion athlete but he was also a champion bloke. What impressed everybody about ‘Chumpy’ was his professionalism,” Chesterman added.
“You know, he applied himself everyday to be the very best athlete he could be and he was obviously an outstanding athlete winning two world championships back-to-back.
“He had a great love of life, a great love of the outdoors and he was also highly charismatic person. And that combination of passion and charisma really meant the he brought people together with him.”
(Reportinmg by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)