Partridge is named as Olympic Athlete of the Year

Image of World Champs men's four gold - 2009

Alex Partridge has been named as rowing’s “Olympic Athlete of the Year”  for his achievements in 2009 as part of the world champion men’s four – his third world title in this boat category since 2005.

Partridge, who celebrated his 29th birthday earlier this week and is pictured above celebrating in the bow seat, received his British Olympic Association award during tonight’s GB Rowing Team Dinner in London.

Now based in Henley-on-Thames, Partridge followed up his Olympic men’s eight silver medal success from 2008 with victory at the World Championships in Poland in August of last year. He was a key player in the quartet which was stroked by Matt Langridge and included Alex Gregory and Ric Egington.

Partridge established his place in the new GB four during the 2009 World Cup Series winning two golds and a bronze to take the overall 2009 title.  At the 2009 World Championships the four’s main rivals were the Australian silver medal four from Beijing who had stayed together to avenge the GB victory at the Olympics.

With such a new British crew, many believed that Australia would triumph.  However this was not to be.  GB proved themselves technically superior and rowed away with a great rhythm, breaking contact soon after 1000m, and were worthy winners of the gold medal, almost two seconds ahead of Australia with Slovenia in third.

Victory in Poland came after an already long and successful rowing career, punctuated by drama when Partridge was sidelined by last-minute injury from Britain’s lead boat going into the Athens 2004 Games. That boat, stroked by Sir Matthew Pinsent and featuring Ed Coode, James Cracknell and Steve Williams went onto take gold.

“Alex always gives 100% to everything he does in rowing.  He has a special place within the squad because of his dedication, his personality, his love of the sport and, of course, for his outstanding achievements. He is a truly worthy winner of this award tonight”, said the GB Rowing Team’s Performance Director David Tanner.

Partridge received his award from Ben Hunt-Davis, a GB men’s eight gold medallist at Sydney 2000.

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In 2008 Alex won silver in the men’s eight at the Olympic Games in Beijing. The crew qualfied directly for the final from the heat ahead of the US Olympic champions, but in the final just could not hold the Canadians who won. This was Alex’s first Olympics – in 2004 he gained his place in the men’s four with Pinsent, Cracknell and Williams but was taken ill 6 weeks before the Games and had to withdraw. He watched the boat with his name on its bows win gold in Athens by an agonising  eight hundredths of a second.

After Athens Alex regained his place in the four, this time with Reed, Hodge and Williams and had an unbroken run of wins until mid 2007, including winning Championship golds in 2005 and 2006. In 2007 they were disappointed to finish 4th at the Worlds.

Alex started rowing at Monkton Combe School, Bath, in 1996, thinking that it would be a good way to keep fit. He immediately enjoyed it and progressed rapidly, being selected for GB in the coxed pair in the World Junior Championships in 1998, in which he won a bronze medal.

The following year Alex won silver in the four at the World Junior Championships in Plovdiv and in 2000 he stepped up to the GB U23 squad, winning gold with the coxed four in the World U23 Championships. The crew led from the first stroke and, despite a strong challenge from the Italians at half way, they raised their game to win gold by a length.

In 2001, Alex made his mark at senior level. After combining with Christopher Martin, Henry Adams and Dan Ouseley to win silver in the four at the World U23 Championships the quartet then gained selection for the coxed four at the senior World Championships in Lucerne. There they reached the final and produced an outstanding final 500m to row through the field and snatch the bronze medal on the line.

In 2002 Alex raced in the eight, finishing 6th at the World Championships. The following year the eight improved throughout the season and showed their class at the World Championships in Milan by qualifying for the final and the Athens Olympics by taking 2nd place in their semi final, splitting the 2002 silver and bronze medallists. In the final they raced in a leading pack of three, finishing with a very creditable bronze medal.

Alex had a very public and frustrating season in 2004, winning the GB Rowing Senior Trials in the pair with Andrew Triggs Hodge and gaining a place in the men’s four with Pinsent, Cracknell and Williams. However, following the World Cup in Lucerne he was ill and had to withdraw from the Olympic four that went on to win gold in Athens.

In 2005 Alex had returned to full fitness and capped a superb season by taking gold in the World Championships in Japan.

The 2006 World Cup brought further success with gold in all of the World Cup events in Munich, Poznan and Lucerne.

At the 2006 World Championships the GB four extended their unbeaten run to 24 races to take the world title for a second time – but this time on home water.

Alex has also enjoyed success at Henley in the past being a finalist in the Temple Challenge Cup and winning the Visitors Challenge Cup in successive years and the Stewards in 2005.

He studied technology management at Oxford Brookes University and in his spare time enjoys climbing, surfing, golf and watching all other top level sports. He is currently studying Italian part–time and is one of the GB Rowing Team’s athlete representatives.

GB Competitive Record

Olympic Games
2008      Silver      M8+

World Rowing Championships
2009     Gold     M4-
2007     4th         M4-
2006     Gold     M4-
2005     Gold     M4-
2003     Bronze     M8+
2002     6th         M8+
2001     Bronze     M4+

World Rowing U23 Championships
2001     Silver     M4-
2000     Gold     M4+

World Rowing Junior Championships
1999     Silver     M4-
1998     Bronze     M2+