Sport: Canoe – Sprint
Olympic History: London 2012 (gold); Rio 2016 (bronze)
Highlights: Winning Olympic Gold in the K4 1000 at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Coach: Jake Michael
Year Born: 1986
Country Born: South Africa
Murray Stewart immigrated to Australia with his family in early 2000. Growing up in South Africa, he excelled in athletics, swimming and water polo but switched to the surf ski once settled in Australia. His father had been a champion sprint, slalom and surf paddler so the transition was a natural fit.
Stewart was a talented junior and bagged national medals all while completing his high school exams.
He started flat water kayaking in 2005 and a year later was selected to an Australian under 23 team and won the K1 1000 metres at an event in Poland.
A young Murray had one eye on the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but a ruptured appendix followed by a spinal fracture in late 2007 disrupted his preparations and he was forced to put his Olympic dream on hold for four more years.
Murray won the single ski events at the 2008 Lifesaving World Championships and 2009 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships and began to build to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
At the start of 2012, Stewart stormed into the public eye with a huge run of top performances at the Olympic selection events. He came first in the K1, K2 and K4 1000m events at the Oceania Championships, before backing up at the Australian Championships to win the same three events.
Lining up for three events at the London 2012 Games, undoubtedly Stewart’s highlight of his debut Olympic campaign was taking out gold in the K4 1000 alongside teammates Jacob Clear, David Smith and Tate Smith. In what was a closely fought tussle, the Australians held a 0.09 second lead at the halfway mark of the race before going on to claim victory by 0.61 seconds ahead of Hungary at the Eton Dorney course.
Stewart finished 8th in the B Final of the K1 1000 and 6th in his heat of the K1 200 – missing the semi-finals.
Four years later at Rio 2016, Stewart lined up at his second Olympics. Despite an injury-plagued preparation, he was in the mix for a medal in the K1 1000.
In the final he paced himself out of the start with Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta taking the early lead and Stewart in fourth. As the paddlers approached the halfway mark, Stewart made his move and upped his pace to move into second place with London 2012 bronze medallist Josef Dostal of the Czech Republic behind him.
Stewart couldn't hold on as Spain's Marcus Walz stormed to gold and Dostal and Anoshkin claimed the silver and bronze medals, with Stewart just over three-tenths of a second outside the medal places.
Stewart’s third Olympic campaign, Tokyo 2020 was buoyed by Olympic bronze medallist Lachlan Tame when the pair teamed up to win K2 1000 silver at the first round of selections at the Grand Prix 2 and bronze at the 2020 Australian Canoe Sprint Championships and second Olympic selection event.
The duo finished behind Rio Olympians Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood and the second-placed pairing Tom Green and Jean van der Westhuyzen.
Off the water, Stewart followed in his architect mother’s footsteps and completed a Masters of Architecture.