Two-time world champion snowboarder Alex Pullin has died after drowning while spearfishing, aged 32.
Pullin was found by a snorkeller on an artificial reef off beach on the Gold Coast in South Brisbane on Wednesday morning, shortly before 11am local time.
The double world champion was in the waters off Palm Beach and had been spearfishing by himself when he was found on the sea floor by another diver, who said the incident was “very upsetting”, according to Gold Coast Police District Duty Officer Chris Tritton.
Attempts by lifeguards and paramedics to resuscitate Pullin on the beach were unsuccessful, and Queensland Ambulance Service officer Justin Payne said that Pullin had sadly not survived.
Office Tritton told Australian broadcaster Channel Nine: “He didn’t have an oxygen mask, we understand he was free diving and spearfishing out on the reef.
“It appears he was diving alone. There were other divers out there but he was not with a friend.”
Brisbane-based newspaper the Courier-Mail earlier reported that Pullin was thought to have “suffered a shallow water blackout”.
Pullin, nicknamed “Chumpy”, won world championship titles in snowboard cross in 2011 and 2013, and was a three-time Winter Olympian for Australia.
He competed at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and placed sixth in his event at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea two years ago, while he was the nation’s flagbearer at Sochi 2014, where he competed in the men’s snowboard cross and reached the quarter-finals.
“It is an incredibly sad day,” Geoff Lipshut, the chief executive of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia, told Reuters.
Lipshut said Pullin had retired from his sport last month but had yet to announce it.
“Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin was one of our great winter sports pioneers ... He attacked every day with intensity and purpose,” he said.
The New South Wales Institute of Sport wrote on Twitter: “Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin was an extraordinary individual who pursued his passions in sport and in life. This loss is tragic to everyone he inspired and loved.”
The Australian Institute of Sport said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Olympic snowboarder Alex Pullin & send condolences to his family, friends & the whole winter sport community.
“The AIS Mental Health Referral Network provides support to athletes, their families, coaches & staff.”
Additional reporting by Reuters