Three-time World Champion and two-time Paralympian set to focus on his family
Paralympic rower and World Champion Gavin Bellis today formally announced his retirement from rowing. Bellis represented Australia at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games as well as at multiple World Rowing Championships and World Rowing Cups.
The 42-year-old, who alongside Kathryn Ross, won back-to-back gold medals at the 2013, 2014 and 2015 World Rowing Championships in the Trunk and Arms Mixed Double Sculls made the decision to retire at the conclusion of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
“I have been competing for the Australian Rowing Team since 2012 and it has given me the most wonderful experiences and opportunities that I perhaps didn’t expect when I first left the Australian Army.
“After four years of competing on the world stage, alongside Kat, I felt that the time was right to step away, post-Rio, and focus on my family and being around for my wife and two young daughters.”
Bellis came to para-rowing after being medically discharged from the Australian Army having been diagnosed with the hereditary disorder of spinocerebellar ataxia, affecting his coordination and balance. He first began rowing in 2010, after contacting the Australian Paralympic Committee, and by 2012 he was representing Australia on the world stage.
Born in Sydney, New South Wales, Bellis rowed out of Powerhouse Rowing Club in Victoria while also training at the Reinhold Batschi National Training Centre for many years, under the guidance of coach Gordon Marcks.
Bellis, who is McVilly-Peace pin number 765, commented: “I have to thank everyone who has been so supportive of my rowing career, the numerous coaches, athletes and of course medical support staff who have supported me for many years. I would specifically like to thank Gordon [Marcks] for his consistent support and coaching throughout my career and of course Kat [Ross] who I could not have rowed the boat without!
“I would also like to thank Rowing Australia and all those involved in the Australian Rowing Team over the last four years for the support that they have afforded me. Finally, I have to of course thank my extremely supportive wife, CJ, our two daughters and my whole family who have sacrificed a lot to see me row for Australia.”
Bellis’ coach, Gordon Marcks, who coached him to three World titles, said: “Gavin has an extraordinary record as an athlete which is a testament to his dedication and capacity to work through the challenges of elite sport. He was never one to choose the easy path which is a valuable commodity and underpinned his rowing.
“It was great that we were able to become friends and share an awesome experience together. There were times where it was hard and challenging but hugely rewarding on a personal level.”
Rowing Australia Performance Director, Bernard Savage added: “Gavin has been a stalwart of the Australian Rowing Team over the years and is highly respected by his peers for all he contributes to the team both on and off the water. We wish him all the best with his retirement.”