Quick Facts

Physical Impairment – Spino cerebellar ataxia
How acquired
Date of Birth
November 11, 1973
Bruce, ACT
Started Competing
First Competed for Australia
Games Experience

London 2012


His brother

Career Highlights

Winning back-to-back world titles in 2013 and 2014

Greatest Moment

Australia winning the America’s Cup


Gavin Bellis has rocketed through his rowing career at lightning fast speed and earned a place at his first Paralympic Games in London, just over a year since he first competed in the sport.

As Kathryn Ross’ double sculls partner, Gavin’s brute physical force combined with Kathryn’s technique makes for an explosive combination. At their first international competition together, the pair won silver at the Gavirate International Regatta in Italy, while Gavin won bronze in the single boat. The pair then backed it up with gold at the Italian National Championships and gold at the World Cup 3 in Munich.

Going into London, Gavin had one goal and that was to win gold at his first Paralympic Games. Motivated by Kathryn who missed out on gold by only 0.08 seconds, Gavin was sure that his goal was within reach. In what he describes as a devastating blow after giving all he had during the race, the pair finished fifth.

Since London, Gavin and Kathryn have been training hard with coach Gordon Marcks. Having quickly overcome their initial shock of finishing fifth, they have re-set their goals on a podium finish at Rio 2016. In a comeback like no other, the dynamic duo’s hard work paid off when they won gold at the 2013 World Championships in South Korea and went on to win back-to-back world titles, when they finished in first place again at the 2014 World Championships in Amsterdam. Their epic win was ranked as the IPC’s 39th top moment of the year, and confirmed their status as contenders for gold at Rio.

While Gavin has always had a background in sport, having played and coached rugby union, it was only when he acquired the hereditary disorder of spinocerebellar ataxia, affecting his coordination and balance, that he considered a career as an athlete.

In 2004, Gavin was working as a diesel mechanic with the Australian Army when he was diagnosed with the disease. A year later he was medically discharged from the army, and after contacting the Australian Paralympic Committee about what his options were, he was encouraged to try his hand at rowing and quickly found that he not only enjoyed it but had the skills to take his new found sport to the highest level.

Having since given up rugby due to his disability, Gavin enjoys watching the game as well as sailing and fulfilling his duties of a father to two children in his spare time.

Sports & Disciplines

  • Sport: Rowing Disciplines: Mixed double sculls Classification: TA