Gavin Bellis was a diesel mechanic with the Australian Army when he was diagnosed with spinocerebellar ataxia in 2004. Affecting his coordination and balance, he was medically discharged the following year.

With experience playing and coaching rugby union, Gavin contacted Paralympics Australia to learn about his options in Para-sport. Encouraged to try rowing, his raw talent and competitive spirit made for a promising start to his sporting career.

At the 2012 Gavirate International Regatta in Italy, Gavin won silver in the mixed double sculls with Paralympic silver medallist Kathryn Ross, and bronze in the single boat.

Motivated by Kathryn’s silver medal success in Beijing, Gavin was confident gold was within reach at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. In what he describes as a devastating blow, the pair finished third in their heat, second in their repechage heat and fifth in the final, racing nearly nine seconds slower than first-placed Chinese …

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Date of birth
11 November 1973
Past Paralympic Games

London 2012, Rio 2016

Physical Impairment – Spinocerebellar ataxia
How acquired
Bruce, ACT
Started competing
First competed for Australia
Sport career highlights

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

Greatest sporting moments

Australia winning the America’s Cup in 1983

Heroes/role models

His brother


  • Sport: Para-rowing Discipline: Mixed double sculls Classification: PR2

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