Alexander Purnell

Alexander Purnell



Place of Birth




Senior Club

Sydney University Boat Club


Ian Wright

Olympic History

Tokyo 2020

High School


Career Events

Rowing Mens Four (M4-)


Alexander's Story


Fast Facts

Sport: Rowing
Event: Men’s Four 
Olympic History: Tokyo 2020 (gold) 
Coach: Rhett Ayliffe (Head Coach) 
Highlights: Gold medal at Tokyo 2020. Earning silver at the 2018 World Championships 
Year Born: 1995
Born: Brisbane, QLD 
Junior Club: Sydney Church of England Grammar School (North Sydney, NSW)

About Alexander

After an impressive junior career, Alexander Purnell ascended to the rowing arena’s highest stage in Tokyo.

The 26-year-old first earned selection in the Australian youth ranks in 2013, with strong performances earning Purnell subsequent appearances in 2014 and in the U23 World Championships, where he earned bronze in the latter Quadruple Sculls event. 

Purnell received his first taste of senior competition in 2017 with selection in the Australian Rowing Team’s World Cup and World Championships sides. 

The following year, Purnell was awarded a place in the Men’s Quadruple Sculls for the 2018 World Championships, where in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the Sydney product helped his crew secure silver in a hardfought race. 

Making his Olympic debut in Tokyo, Purnell won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the Men's Four.  Purnell joined Spencer Turrin, Jack Hargreaves and Alexander Hill for a famous victory that saw Australia reclaim the title from the British who had been Olympic Champions for the past five Olympic Games, while breaking Australia's run of three consecutive Olympic silver medals in this boat class.

The crew were commanding in their Heat but were pushed to their limits in the Final. Their 1.62 seconds lead with 500-metres to go was ultimately reduced to just 0.37 of a second with the Aussies winning in an Olympic best time of 5 minutes 42.76 seconds from Romania and Italy. Fittingly, the result came almost 25 years to the day since Australia last won gold in this race at Atlanta 1996 and was part of ‘the hour of power,’ a moment in time when Australia’s Men’s and Women’s Fours stormed home for gold and the Men’s and Women’s Quadruple Sculls claimed bronze. The four medals won over the course of an hour by Australian rowing crews, along with swimmer Ariarne Titmus' gold medal in 200 metres freestyle, contributed to the most successful period in the history of the Australian Olympic Team.

Alex is the younger brother of dual Olympian Nick Purnell who represented Australia at the London 2012 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. It was a family affair in Japan as the Purnell's became the first brothers on the Australian Olympic Rowing Team since 2004. 

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