Alexander Purnell at the launch of the 2024 Australian Olympic Team uniform.

Olympic champions and NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) athletes Alexander Purnell, Spencer Turrin and Jack Hargreaves have their eyes set on another gold medal at the Olympic Games, this time in rowing’s blue ribbon event.

Purnell, who won an Olympic gold medal in the Men’s Four at the Tokyo Olympics with Hargreaves and Turrin, has been seated between his NSWIS teammates in the Men’s Eight following the rowing selection trials in March.

“Nothing has been finalised yet, but I am in the 4 seat – right in the middle – sandwiched between Spencer and Jack,” Purnell said with a grin.

“They say it’s the engine room – obviously we have gelled well before so they have put us close together in this boat. Hopefully we can contribute to the boat and keep the rhythm with the guys at the front.”

Alexander Purnell

Purnell credits a strong squad supported by several young rowers, who have risen through the ranks, as the basis for the move from the Four to the Eight.

“The Eight is the blue ribbon event historically in rowing and to be able compete at the Olympics is exciting. There is an opportunity to potentially row an eight and be competitive – we shall see how we go.”

Purnell, who has been rowing with Hargreaves and Turrin for at least seven years, has competed in hundreds of regattas at a club state and international level with his teammates.

“I started rowing with the guys in the seniors – you are out there fighting together on the course all the time – at club, state and international regattas.  You spend a lot of time with each other so you get to know each other pretty well and you form a special bond.”

The Olympic gold medallist has previous experience competing in the Men’s Eight at World Championship level and enjoys the thrill of the different challenges the boat presents.

“It has been a few years, but I’ve raced in the World Championships in the Eight a couple of times. The race goes a bit quicker and there is a lot more noise. And there are nine of us in the boat – eight plus the coxswain – so there is the challenge of more people trying to move together and be a cohesive unit.

“It’s exciting and thrilling. I am really looking forward to it.”

Purnell is set to compete at the National Rowing Championships later this week at Sydney International Regatta Centre.

“It’s a good opportunity to represent your state. I’m looking forward to representing NSW.”

Following Nationals, the Olympic rowing squad move to Canberra for training, before departing on May 12th for the World Cup regattas in Switzerland and Poland.

“The team will be confirmed after the World Cups and from there we stay in Italy at the European Training Centre for a few more weeks and then before we know it, Paris will be right there.”

Frances Cordaro, NSWIS

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