STAGING Ellen Buttrick on the PR3 Mixed Coxed Four - British Rowing

Ellen Buttrick on the PR3 Mixed Coxed Four

Ellen Buttrick discusses her experience having a visual impairment and how she rows adaptively in the PR3 Mixed Coxed Four

During Ellen’s second year of university, she noticed that her sight started to deteriorate. With no luck from the opticians, Ellen visited Newcastle hospital where she was informed that “it wasn’t something that could be fixed by glasses, and it probably would get worse.” She sat there, took it all in, and instinctively replied with “does this mean I can row at Paralympics?” Just 12 months after attending a Para Talent ID day, Ellen joined the GB Para-Rowing Senior Squad and within 3 months, won Gold at the 2018 World Rowing Championships in the PR3 Mixed Coxed Four.

Ellen has Stargardt’s Disease, a form of juvenile macular degeneration, meaning her central vision is deteriorating. This doesn’t hinder her performance in the boat, however. “I can’t see the person in front of me, but I can see their blades. I can hear where it is and I can feel the run of the boat.” Each person in the Four has a different rig, whether that’s a different seat height, span, inboard or outboard, and this allows the team to row together harmoniously, regardless of their impairment.


Ellen embraced the squad environment and explains in her video how socializing and training with the team made her into the athlete she is today.

Watch Ellen’s video in full to find more out about her visual impairment, as well as tips for new rowers.

We are looking for new talented athletes to join our elite GB para-rowing team. To find out more about our athletes’ journeys into rowing and the ‘GB Para-Rowing – Not For Everyone’ campaign, head over to