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Row 360

British Rowing appoints Australian Brendan Purcell as Director of Performance

by Row 360

British Rowing has announced the appointment of Brendan Purcell as its new Director of Performance, replacing Sir David Tanner CBE who stepped down at the end of February 2018. See our full report on Sir David Tanner’s decision to retire in issue 21 of Row360. 

Purcell, 47, will start his new role on 1 June 2018, having served as Performance Director at British Triathlon since January 2013, where he oversaw success on the world, Olympic and Paralympic stage.

Brendan Purcell

During his tenure at British Triathlon, Purcell led Great Britain to seven medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, including an historic second gold for Alistair Brownlee and a first ever medal for a British woman through Vicky Holland. In the inaugural Paralympic triathlon, Great Britain finished second in the medal table, with one gold, two silvers and one bronze.

The Queensland native will join British Rowing with preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games well underway, and Great Britain having won seven medals at the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton.

He will lead British Rowing’s world class high performance programme and the GB Rowing Team, supported by a strong and very experienced senior staff that includes Chief Coaches Jürgen Grobler (Olympic men), Paul Thompson (Olympic women), Tom Dyson (Paralympic) and Peter Sheppard (U23s and Juniors), at British Rowing’s national training centre in Caversham, Reading.

Purcell said: “I’m very excited to be joining British Rowing as Director of Performance. I know there are big shoes to fill following on from Sir David Tanner but there’s no doubt he’s left the programme in a strong position, not just in this Olympiad, but for many years to come. I’m looking forward to working with the extremely talented and dedicated group of athletes, coaches and support staff at Caversham and continuing Great Britain’s legacy of rowing success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Andy Parkinson, CEO of British Rowing, said: “I’m delighted to be welcoming Brendan to British Rowing. His experience in high performance sport in the UK and Australia will be invaluable as Great Britain strives to continue to be the world’s leading rowing nation.

“Brendan’s track record of delivering success at the highest level of sport made him the ideal candidate to lead the GB Rowing Team into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond.

“Brendan will also play a key role on British Rowing’s senior management team, helping shape the future direction of the organisation and broadening the appeal of the sport.”

UK Sport Director of Performance Chelsea Warr said: “UK Sport is absolutely delighted to see Brendan take up this significant performance leadership role at British Rowing.

“From a personal perspective, I would like to thank Brendan for the manner in which he enabled his athletes, coaches and support staff at British Triathlon to deliver historic results at Rio 2016 with three Olympic and four Paralympic medals.

“Whilst Brendan’s presence will be missed in British Triathlon, it is terrific to see him take up another key leadership post in the GB high performance system.

“I would also like pay tribute to Sir David Tanner for his outstanding commitment and dedication which enabled British Rowing to achieve incredible results across multiple Games. He has left strong foundations which I am confident Brendan will build on.”

As an athlete, Purcell competed on the world stage in canoeing for Australia. Off the water, he worked with Australia’s high performance canoeing and diving programmes before moving to the UK, joining the GB canoe sprint programme prior to the 2008 Olympic Games. He was appointed Head Coach to the canoe sprint team after the Beijing Games, leading the programme through its most successful Olympic cycle.

Purcell will be supporting the Home Nations athletes and staff at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast this April. He will formally take on his role as Director of Performance from 1 June 2018. His appointment followed a global search for the new Director of Performance which produced a very strong field of candidates.

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