Dave Ellis: Background, career highlights, quotes

Dave Ellis exploded onto the paratriathlon scene in 2013 and hasn't looked back. Here's what's happened in his career since then…

Paratriathlete Dave Ellis

Competing in the PTVI category in paratriathlete competition, partially sighted Dave Ellis is a five-time world and five-time European champion, although Paralympic gold has evaded the East Midlander for a number of unfortunate reasons.

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Here, we take a look at his story so far…

Who is Dave Ellis?

When Derby-born Dave Ellis failed to qualify for the GB swim team for the 2012 Paralympics by the narrowest of margins (having already represented his country at the Beijing Games four years earlier), he needed a new challenge. It came in the form of his partner Claire Cashmore’s sport: triathlon.

Keen to open a new chapter in his sporting story, partially sighted Ellis took up triathlon in the early months of 2013. To say that he was an overnight success is something of an understatement.

In that very first year of triathlon competition in the PTVI category, he not only became national champion, he not only became European champion, but he also became world champion. It was an extraordinary achievement for someone so inexperienced.

Paratriathlete Dave Ellis training on the track
Dave takes part in a run session on the track (Credit: Ben Lumley)

Multiple podium finishes followed over the next 12 months before Ellis announced – off the back of his category being removed from the Rio Paralympics – he was pushing triathlon aside and concentrating on track running.

When he returned to the sport in 2017, he was in even better shape than before, regaining both his Europe and world titles at a canter, an achievement matched the following year too.

After the pandemic, in 2021, Ellis would win his fourth European and fourth world title, albeit after the huge disappointment of a misfired attempt to secure Paralympic gold.

The tandem ridden by himself and guide Luke Pollard suffered a mechanical, leaving their dreams lying shattered on the Tokyo tarmac.

Despite breaking his arms in a training accident at the start of 2022, Ellis’ year turns around at the midway point when he wins gold in the first-ever PTVI Commonwealth Games race and then one-week later does the double at the first UK-based WPCS race in Swansea.

He rounds the year out with a fifth world title at the Grand Final in Abu Dhabi.

How old is Dave Ellis?

Dave Ellis was born on 12 July 1986, making him 37 years of age.

Dave Ellis’s career highlights

GB paratri team
Dave Ellis and guide Luke Pollard race together at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics (Credit: Charly Triballeau /AFP via Getty Images)

June 2013: An electric rookie season

Having switched from swimming to triathlon only a few months earlier, Ellis finds himself in the remarkable position of becoming European champion at his first major multisport championships in the Turkish resort of Alanya.

September 2013: The novice becomes king of the world

The rapid transformation into an elite paratriathlete is complete when Ellis, by now also national champion, wins the world title in the PTVI category on the streets of London.

Guided by Luke Watson, Ellis has completed a truly remarkable first few months in the sport.

September 2017: The second coming earns further rewards

In 2015, Ellis had learnt that his category was going to be left out of the triathlon programme at the Rio Paralympics the following year, so he switched to track running for a couple of years.

When he returned – and aided by improvements to his run splits – Ellis regained the European crown in Kitzbühel in June. Then, come September in Rotterdam, he also retook possession of the world title.

September 2018: A hat-trick of world titles – and an unblemished record

Dave Ellis competes in WPCS Yokohama with guide Carl Shaw
Dave Ellis competes on the bike leg of the World Series race in Yokohama in 2018, which he goes on to win with guide Carl Shaw (Credit: Nobuo Yano/Getty Images)

Now guided by Mark Buckingham, and thanks to an impressively fast bike leg, Ellis takes his third world title on the Gold Coast, having already retained his European crown. It turns out to be a vintage year for Ellis: he wins all five races he enters.

August 2021: Heartbreak in Japan

After an absence of 13 years, Ellis finally gets to compete in the Paralympics, this time as a triathlete following his appearance in Beijing in 2008 as a member of Team GB’s swimming squad.

However, a mechanical problem on the bike leg in Tokyo brings chronic disappointment to him and guide Luke Pollard.

September 2021: European and world title number four

Dave Ellis stands on the podium after becoming a paratriathlon world champion
Dave stands on the podium with guide Luke Pollard after securing his fourth world title in Abu Dhabi, 2021. (Credit: Tommy Zaferes/World Triathlon)

Ellis puts behind him the distress of Tokyo by winning the European Championships again, this time in Valencia.

On the three previous occasions he’s won the European title, Ellis has gone on to scoop the world crown too. And this year is no exception with victory in Abu Dhabi in November.

May 2022: European title number five 

It’s a shaky start to 2022 as Ellis trips over an extendable dog lead while out on a training run in January and breaks both his arms.

But he’s back and on form for the Euros in Olsztyn, Poland, to retain his title. Two Para Cup wins follow in June, in Besancon and A Coruna.

July 2022: Commonwealth king

At his 2022 A-race, Ellis and guide Pollard cruise to Commonwealth glory in Sutton Park, Birmingham.

August 2022: Golden UK debut

One week after the Commonwealths and it’s the first-ever UK World Triathlon Paratriathlon Series race in Swansea. And once again Ellis and Pollard reign victorious.

November 2022: World title number five 

WTCS Granf Final Abu Dhabi 2022 by Wagner Araujo (@wags.photo)
Dave Ellis and Luke Pollard en route to world title number five at the 2022 WTCS Grand Final Abu Dhabi. (Credit: Wagner Araujo (@wags.photo)/World Triathlon)

Ellis and Pollard make it eight wins from eight starts in 2022 to retain the PTV1 world title.

June 2023: Settles for silver

Loses his European title to the French pairing of Antoine Perel and (guide) Yohan Le Berre in Madrid. A month later and the GB duo are back on the top step in A Coruna and again two weeks later in Swansea.

August 2023: Gold at the Paris Test Event

At the duathlon-format Paris Paralympics Test Event, the GB pair cruise to gold.

Dave Ellis in quotes

On eternal Paralympic disappointment, whether narrowly missing out on qualifying, the non-inclusion of his category, or a bike mechanical: “It’s been challenging, but it’s never an easy journey to the pinnacle of the sport or trying to achieve something great.”

On bouncing back from a DNF at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021 to win both European and world golds last autumn: “Having to have something to focus on straight away after Tokyo was quite nice, rather than having to wait another year or six months for the race. But you could not completely forget Tokyo.”

What’s next Dave Ellis?

Easy – bagging that missing medal at the Paris Paralympics in 2024.

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Top image credit: Ben Lumley