GAVIN BELLIS is a 42 year old Army Veteran who is heading to Rio to compete in his second Paralympic games in September 2016.
Gav is a loyal husband to Cherisa and dedicated father to Analiese 13 and Jorja 12. Life was going well for Gav who was a Sergeant vehicle mechanic in the Australian Army, when he was diagnosed in 2004 with Spinocerebellar Ataxia – a hereditary and degenerative disease which affected his mobility and co-ordination.
After being medically discharged from the Army, Gav took on the role of being house dad to Analiese and Jorja, which he found very different from what he had been used to. His new lifestyle put him into a big black hole for over five years. For some reason little girls weren’t as responsive as trained soldiers.
But in 2008, Gav was watching the Paralympics in Beijing and something clicked inside him when he heard that a swimmer had the same condition he did. He started to think that he could once again represent his country – but this time in the sporting arena rather than in a war zone!
In 2010, Gav visited the Australian Paralympic Committee, to find out more about being a Paralympian. They took one look at him and being 6’4” they suggested giving rowing ago. The next day, he enrolled into a beginners rowing program through Rowing School Victoria in April 2010. For the next two years Gav put his head down and bum up with the dream of competing at the 2012 London Paralympics. Outsiders looking in, thought ‘he was dreamin’. However, in May 2012 his dream turned into reality when he was selected to row with Kathryn Ross in the Mixed Trunk and Arms Double in London.
In their first international race, Gav and Kat came second to France – but their time was under the current world best time. Two months later they pipped France at the post to take out Gold in the Munich World Cup III.
But with only six weeks to go before the London Games, Gav partially tore his bicep tendon from the bone – a devastating injury for a rower. However, despite the agony he was in, Gav and Kat managed to qualify for the final. Unfortunately, they were unable to repeat their earlier performance and missed out on a medal by .6 seconds.
On return to Australia, Gav had surgery to repair the torn tendon and spent the next four months focussing on his rehabilitation.
Gav and Kat’s next appearance on the world stage was at the 2013 World Championships in Chungju, South Korea where Gav and Kat won gold.
The next two years saw Gav and Kat go from strength to strength with winning gold at both the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands and at the 2015 World Championships in Aiguebelette, France.
For the past 12 months Gav and Kat have had their sights firmly on medalling at the 2016.
Read Gav’s athletes profile here.