Paddle Australia is pleased to announce the appointment of Brendan Purcell to the role of National Performance Director, to commence following the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

As the National Performance Director, Brendan will be the primary lead of Paddle Australia’s High Performance Program which purposefully supports Australian athletes to become the world’s best paddlers and people.

Recognised within the UK Sport system as a credible and highly experienced Performance Director, Brendan has been able to balance the achievement of significant medal success at the Beijing, London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games with a focus on developing and enhancing organisational culture. His leadership is driven by a clear winning well philosophy and by empowering individuals to be their best.

Having worked as the National Performance Director in British Triathlon and British Rowing, Brendan understands the challenges of working in a complex system and the importance of building relationships with athletes, coaches, performance support staff and stakeholders.

Brendan was Chair of the UK Sports Performance Directors Forum for many years.

Paddling has been a part of Brendan’s DNA for a lifetime. Having started a Sprint Kayak coaching career at the Western Australian Institute of Sport and Queensland Academy of Sport, Brendan worked as a National Senior Coach for Australian Canoeing 20 years ago before relocating to the UK with his family to further his career. Brendan has maintained many professional and personal relationships both within the sport and the wider Australian High Performance Sport System.

Currently a Podium Technical Coach (Men’s Kayak and Para) for Paddle UK (formerly British Canoeing) he will take a world class squad of athletes to the Paris Paralympics before starting in the role with Paddle Australia on 7 October 2024.

Current National Performance Director Kim Crane, who will complete her tenure after leading Team Australia to Paris, when she then transitions into the CEO role, said “Organisationally we set ourselves a target to transition to the LA28 Cycle as seamlessly as possible. Understanding the importance of succession planning, we intentionally went to market early and are now excited to bring Brendan, a highly capable and experienced international sports leader, back home to Australia. 

“It is important for us to acknowledge our colleagues at Paddle UK who have been genuinely supportive, ensuring that we work together respectfully without disrupting Paris preparations. 

Finding the right fit was vitally important. Brendan is a dynamic leader who we believe will take our High Performance Program to a whole new level. Thank you to our PA Board and to the Australian Institute of Sport for their support throughout what was a highly competitive best practice recruitment process,” she said.

Paddle Australia President Andrew Trim said: “Making significant progress over recent years, our High Performance Program has been on a transformational change journey during the Paris cycle. 

“It was important to identify a leader who would be able to continue in the same direction in the LA28 cycle, where the responsibility now is to stabilise and elevate the current strategy, add value, collaborate, and enhance the ‘’one team’’ culture whilst embracing diversity within Sprint, Slalom and Para.

“Brendan is a resilient leader with strong communication skills.  He is a continuous learner, is passionate about driving results and understands how to build high engagement levels within a team. His vast depth of experience working in world-class high-performance environments made him a standout candidate

“I look forward to welcoming Brendan to the team, as we continue to build on the green and gold runway to Brisbane 2032,” he said.

Brendan Purcell says “I’m really excited and humbled by the opportunity to work with the amazing athletes, coaches, and performance support team of Paddle Australia’s National High Performance Program across the Sprint, Slalom and Paracanoe disciplines and to pull on the green and gold again after 17.5 years in the UK.

From the interactions and insight I’ve gained about the current program, the level of passion and commitment to push the boundaries of performance excellence on the world stage is awe inspiring and something that motivated me to apply for the role and consider relocating my family back to Australia. I really want to thank Paddle Australia for the belief they’ve shown in me, by bringing me into their team to help achieve what are clearly outlined goals and objectives in the LA28 cycle.”