Learn more about Murray

Murray is an elite athlete who has competed and achieved at the highest level in Sprint Kayaking, Surf Lifesaving and Ocean Racing.  Although his passion is usually evenly split between the three disciplines, at present Murray is primarily focusing on Sprint Kayaking as he embarks on a journey towards the Rio 2016 Olympics.

As a multiple Australian Champion and National Team representative in Sprint Kayaking, and with a Gold Medal in the Men’s K4 1000m at the London Olympic Games in 2012, Murray is striving towards becoming a two time Olympic Champion at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The 2015 World Championships were the first step on the Road to Rio. With Australia battling the rest of the world for illusive positions at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Murray finished 6th in the K1 1000m at this regatta which meant he gained an outright qualification for Australia in this event. A fortuitous event given that Murray’s results at the 2016 Olympic selection regattas earned him selection to this event at the Rio Olympics.

With the domestic season now concluded, Murray is focusing his efforts on preparing for the World Cup Tour in May. Throughout his Olympic campaign Murray will continue to work remotely for Stewart Design Studio, as he finds great joy in balancing his passions for Architecture and paddling.

Career Highlights
  • 2016 Selected to represent Australia at the Rio Olympic Games
  • 2016 National Championships – 1st in K1, K2 and K4 1000m
  • 2015 National Championships – 1st in K1, K2 and K4 1000m
  • 2014 World Championships – 5th K1 1000m
  • 2012 London Olympic Games – Olympic Gold Medalist K4 1000m, B Finalist K1 1000m
  • 2012 Selected to represent Australia at the London Olympic Games

Learn more about Murray

Murray Stewart is an elite kayak, surf ski and ocean racing paddler. In each of those categories, he’s one of the best in the country. Across all three, he’s one of the best in the world. Whilst his athletic achievements are what he is best known for, there’s a lot more to Murray than moving fast in a boat.

The Stewart family migrated from South Africa to Australia in early 2000. “Little Muzz”, a tiny 13 year old about to start high school, had always punched above his weight. In South Africa he had represented his state in water polo, swimming and cross country running. People would watch this kid winning races with legs half the size of the rest of the field, but whizzing twice as fast! The same mental toughness that caused him to win then is the source of Murray’s strength now.

Paddling has always been in Murray’s blood. His father, Robbie, was one of the top sprint, slalom and surf paddlers in South Africa during the 1970s and 80s. Robbie’s Olympic dream was denied due to the ban on South African athletes competing. The dream never died in the Stewart house.

Murray was a talented junior on the surf ski, bagging national medals whilst excelling in his high school exams. He didn’t start kayaking until mid-2005 – chasing his mates around Manly Dam to help their surf ski paddling. His first ski coach, Tony Vieceli, is still one of Murray’s biggest supporters and mentors. In the middle of an impressive first year out of juniors, Murray contracted glandular fever and was out of the boat for a summer. During that hiatus, Murray switched his university degree – staying at Sydney University, but committing to another 5 years of study to follow in his mother’s footsteps as an Architect.

In late 2006, fully recovered from his illness, Murray joined MWKC and gained his first national selection (in the u23 team) just months later. His first international tour saw him winning the u23 K1 1,000m in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He still wasn’t the biggest athlete on the water – in Poland the Bellarussian paddler who came 3rd stood taller than Murray from the bottom step of the podium – but “Little Muzz” had started to grow, and the Australian paddling community had started to take notice.

Unfortunately, any dreams that Murray had of Olympic selection for Beijing were halted in mid-2007. He was in South Africa for the ocean racing world champs, but collapsed from stomach pains the night before the event. He still raced – he didn’t go halfway across the world to pull out – but when he got back to Australia, doctors realized that his appendix had burst and created all sorts of surgical complications. Murray was in hospital for his 21st birthday and, after an agonizing few months of recovery, eventually got back in the boat. His progress was halted again when he fractured a spinal process – one of the little wing-like bones that poke out from your vertebrae. Many people would have given up if they were put in Murray’s position in early 2008. Not Murray. He kept fit by training on the spin bike. He went through the kayaking movements on a home-made ergo, so that his muscles wouldn’t lose the memory of perfectly efficient movement. His first week back on the water was February 2008, having lost a lot of weight and not paddled for months. He qualified for the national kayak team less than eight weeks later.

Since 2008, Murray’s career has gone from strength to strength. After more solid performances at an u23 level, he trained with the Australian Beijing Olympic squad in Hungary before blitzing the World Surf Lifesaving Championships to win the Open Men’s Single Ski. He won the Twenty Beaches in 2008, and was runner-up in the World Ocean Racing Series in 2009; beating his long-time rival turned coach, Tim Jacobs. After winning the single ski at Aussies ‘09 – the biggest accomplishment that an Australian surf ski paddler can dream of – Murray switched his focus to the London Olympics.

At his first Kayak World Championships, Murray placed a credible 8th in the k2 500m. In 2010 he made the men’s k4, getting a 5th at world champs. His k4 crew backed up with a silver medal in 2011, the best an Australian K4 crew has ever done at a World Championship level.  The following year at the Olympic trials Murray qualified to represent Australia at the Olympics across a remarkable four events, winning selection in all three 1000m events and in the k1 200m. Unfortunately not being able to race across all those events Murray decided to place his focus on the k1 and k4 1000m races, he also lined up in the k1 200m at the games.

Progressing through the World Cup tour things looked on track with Murray and his k4 crew bringing home a few medals and not placing outside the top five in A-finals of either event. However as fate would have it the day before racing commenced at the Olympics Murray came down with a bronchial infection. As a result on the first day of competition Murray raced the k1 heats and semis well below his best and failed to progress to the A-final. Despite this setback and with the support of his crew Murray rallied and he and his crew went on to become the first Australian crew to win Olympic Gold in the men’s K4 1000m in London, 2012. If you look closely at the footage of the end of the race while the rest of the crew is celebrating Murray is struggling to breathe still battling illness during the race.

In 2013 Murray and the other three members of the London gold medal winning crew (Jake Clear, David Smith and Tate Smith) took some time to focus on other aspects of their lives. They decided to give the World Cup tour a miss and instead Murray used May to wed his beautiful partner (and biggest supporter) Rebecca. At the World Championships later in the year the crew retained their spot on the podium placing 3rd in the k4 1000m and Murray and Jake also placed a close 5th in the k2 1000m.

In the time since winning gold in the men’s K4 1000m in London, Murray has continued to represent Australia at a World Cup and World Championship level in both individual and team boat events. His domestic results are a highlight having won 14 out of a possible 15 National Titles between 2012 and 2016 across all three men’s 1000m events. During this time the depth of talent on the 1000m national team has been phenomenal – over this five year period the team has played host to 5 x Olympic Champions, a dual World Championship Silver Medalist and 2 x U/23 World Champions.

Since 2014, Murray has shifted his focus towards the k1 1000m, with his sights set on racing this event in Rio. Across these two seasons Murray has won two silver medals at a World Cup level and finished 5th and 6th respectively at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. Each season Murray has continued to take seconds off his personal best time in the k1 1000m. He recently posted the fastest Australian men’s k1 1000m time in history. Having won both k1 1000m Olympic selection events in 2016, Murray has confirmed his status as the top Australian k1 1000m performer.

While he has been pursuing the k1 1000m he has not lost sight of his potential to contribute to the outstanding team boats that the Australian men’s 1000m team has been producing over the past few years. Continuing to race k2 and k4 across this period, Murray (alongside long term k2 partner Jacob Clear) have won a multitude of World Cup medals across k2 and k4. In fact when Murray and Jake have been in the same boat they haven’t lost an Australian National Championship Title in either k2 or k4 since 2009.

You probably know that Murray is on track to race the k1 1000m at the Rio Olympics. What you may not know is that Murray is modest beyond belief and his ability to remain grounded, to develop a plan for life after sport and to nurture those around him are the attributes that make him an amazing role model.

Murray Stewart’s story is far from over. Best of luck in Rio, Big Muzz!

    • Selected to represent Australia at the Rio Olympic Games
    • National Championships – 1st K1, K2 and K4 1000m
    • Selection Regatta – 1st K1 and K4 1000m, 2nd K2 1000m
    • World Championships – 6th MK1 1000m (Olympic Qualification Quota Achieved)
    • World Cup One – 2nd MK1 1000m and 1st MK4 1000m
    • World Cup Two – 5th MK1 1000m and 5th MK4 1000m
    • National Championships – 1st K1, K2 and K4 1000m
    • Selection Regatta – 1st K1, K2 and K4 1000m
    • World Championships – 5th K1 1000m
    • World Cup One – 2nd K2 1000m
    • World Cup Two – 5th K1 1000m, 5th K4 1000m
    • World Cup Three – 2nd K1 1000m, 1st K4 1000m
    • National Championships – 1st K1, K2 and K4 1000m
    • World Championships – 3rd K4 1000m, 5th K2 1000m
    • National Championships – 2nd K1 1000m, 1st K2 and K4 1000m
    • Selection Regatta – 1st K1, K2 and K4 1000m
    • London Olympic Games – Olympic Gold Medalist K4 1000m, B Finalist K1 1000m
    • World Cup Two – 5th K1 1000m, 4th K4 1000m
    • World Cup Three – 2nd K1 1000m, 2nd K4 1000m
    • National Championships – 1st K1, K2 and K4 1000m, 1st K1 200m
    • Selection Regatta – 1st K1, K2 and K4 1000m, 2nd K1 200m