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Paul Thompson MBE appointed Rowing Australia Performance Director

Rowing Coach of World and Olympic Champions, Paul Thompson MBE has been announced as the next Performance Director of Rowing Australia (RA).

Thompson joins RA from his role as Senior High-Performance Manager at the New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS).

With over 30 years of international coaching and leadership experience, Thompson is well positioned to build on the success of the Australian Rowing Team at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Regattas as Rowing Australia embarks on preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Thompson is well known to rowers and coaches in Australia having started his coaching career at the Australian Institute of Sport in the 1990’s. As a coach, he has delivered a host of Olympic and World Championships medals for Australia, Great Britain and China. One of his earliest achievements included coaching Kate Slatter and Megan Still to a Gold Medal in the Women’s Pair at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. It was the first time a female crew from Australia had won an Olympic Gold Medal in Rowing.

Thompson’s most recent success came off the back of a three-year coaching role with China and resulted in their Women’s Quadruple Scull winning a Gold Medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

RA President Rob Scott was amongst the first to congratulate Thompson on his appointment.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Paul as he takes on the role of Performance Director with Rowing Australia. Paul is highly credentialed and a well-regarded professional with a strong track record of success.” Scott said.

“It is pleasing to see Paul return to Australia and now lead our High-Performance program, and for a new generation of rowers and coaches to benefit from his international experience. We see opportunities for growth and development across our Men’s, Women’s and Para Rowing programs and we are confident Paul will add a lot of value across our entire program, from the pathways to the elite level,” he said.

Rowing Australia CEO Ian Robson said Thompson’s appointment to the role of Performance Director was an important step for the organisation on the path to Paris.

“There is no denying Tokyo was an historic moment in time for Australian rowing, but with a shortened three-year cycle we must quickly turn our attention to Paris 2024 with ambitious goals to sustain and strengthen our Tokyo standings,” Robson said.

“Our high-performance program will benefit from Paul’s strong leadership skills and coaching acumen,” he said.

Incoming Performance Director Paul Thompson said: “It is a great privilege and honour to be appointed the next Performance Director of Rowing Australia.

“Australia enjoys a rich tradition of success in rowing, evidenced most recently by the results achieved at World Championships and the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. I was sitting in the stands in Tokyo when Australia’s two gold and two bronze medals came through and it was fabulous to see the emotion, strong teamwork and connectedness of the crews, their coaches and support staff.

“It is a huge responsibility to lead and evolve Rowing Australia’s High-Performance program as we embark on a shortened Paris cycle. I’m excited and looking forward to working with a quality team of athletes, coaches and support staff.  The positive culture that we saw in Tokyo will be crucial to Australia maintaining its strong world rankings.

“As a first matter of business, I want to reconnect and re-engage with the Australian rowing community. This is my first time working in Australia in over 20 years and I respect the system has changed over time.

“I am passionate about engaging athletes, coaches and support staff at all levels of the pathway to prepare our programs for success in the long-term. There are firsts in our sport that Australia is still to achieve. I want to see Rowing Australia win its first Paralympic Gold Medal and our first Gold Medal at a home Olympics, when the Games come to Brisbane in 2032.”