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Paralympic Sports: Triathlon

Dave Ellis re-energised for Tokyo 2020

Para triathlon world champion back in the game 25 Feb 2019
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male Para triathlete Dave Ellis cycling on a tandem bike behind his guide

Dave Ellis (R) is excited to be targeting a Paralympic appearance at Tokyo 2020

ⒸGetty Images
By Adam Bailey | For the IPC

“I think the main motivation for me comes from within, and just wanting to be the best athlete I can be. This year I'm just excited to push things on. I’m feeling settled and I have my training and racing all planned out, so all I need to do is enjoy the journey and hope it takes me to the 2020 Paralympic Games.”

Great Britain’s three-time Para triathlon world champion Dave Ellis cannot wait to race again this year after his PTVI category was confirmed for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

When his category was not included in the programme for Rio 2016, where triathlon made its Paralympic debut, Ellis took some time away from the sport to focus on running. But after the positive announcement last August, the 32-year-old has added swimming and cycling back to his training.

“I wasn't expecting it (the confirmation) at all,” Ellis said. “I thought my sporting career would pretty much be done at Gold Coast 2018 (World Championships), so now it's exciting to dedicate myself to the sport for the next two years.”

Good guidance

A third world title last September rounded off a perfect year for Ellis and his guide Mark Buckingham with the pair ending 2018 with five out of five wins on the international circuit. The record was even more impressive considering Ellis and Buckingham were only first paired last April.

“I think having someone you trust gives you confidence and allows you to relax and race well,” Ellis said. “All the guys that have guided me have been great at this. Last year Mark and I raced really well together pretty much straight from the get-go and it just ended up working really well.”

Three-time Olympian and Ironman world record holder Tim Don also has joined British Triathlon as one of three racing guides.

“It's great that Tim has got involved,” Ellis said. “I was pretty shocked when I heard he had applied to be part of the process, he's such a legend of the sport so I never expected that.

“Having the three guys as race guides means I'm going to do a little more racing this season and then we can try to figure out if there's a best combination, but this is going to be tough because they’re all awesome athletes. It's going to be good fun and hopefully I will keep learning by racing with each of them,” Ellis added.

Rediscovering his passion

Ellis was first introduced to Para triathlon at a talent identification day in February 2013.

Three world titles, three European titles, and multiple international wins – he has already accomplished a lot. In fact, only twice has the British triathlete finished below second in his international career.

Before he discovered triathlon, Ellis was hoping to compete in swimming at his home London 2012 Paralympics, having competed in Beijing four years before. But he missed out on a place on the team by 0.09 seconds.

It was a setback which nearly marked the end of his sporting career.

“Getting over the disappointment of not competing in London took me some time to get over,” Ellis said. “I struggled to even watch the Games, I didn't want to be around it, but I ended up going down to watch one of my girlfriend’s races in the end and managed to experience the atmosphere in the pool.

“I went through an eight-month period where I was pretty lost, and I didn't know whether I should still try to be a swimmer or just get a job,” Ellis added.

But the questions Ellis had about his sporting future sparked the beginning of a new journey.

“I think the main motivation for me comes from within, and just wanting to be the best athlete I can be,” Ellis said. “This year I'm just excited to push things on. I’m feeling settled and I have my training and racing all planned out, so all I need to do is enjoy the journey and hope it takes me to the 2020 Paralympic Games.”