While spending his summers back home on Vancouver Island, Cyrus Gray, a bobsledder on Canada’s National Team, built a dry-land training sled to perfect his technique. (Photo provided by Cyrus Gray)

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

From basketball to bobsleigh, Cyrus Gray had a dream, he was going to play sports at a professional level — and nothing was going to stop him.

Gray started playing basketball when he was in Grade 10 at Cowichan Secondary School and that’s where he decided playing sports professionally was what he wanted to do.

“I always got excited playing basketball, I’d rather be on the court than going to class,” said the 24-year-old.

Graduating in 2013, Gray tried to keep the momentum going by studying sports performance at Camosun College. After a year of playing for the Camosun Chargers as a point guard he realized his goals were getting further away from him, taking a step back he decided college ball wasn’t for him.

View this post on Instagram

🛷🇨🇦

A post shared by CYRUS GRAY (@cyrussgray) on

Spending the next few years working and playing pick-up basketball games here and there, Gray couldn’t shake the feeling that he was meant for something more, remembering a vow he made to himself when he was young to play sports at a higher level.

READ ALSO: Avid Victoria cyclist’s legacy bike ride helps fund end-of-life care

It wasn’t until 2017 when he heard about RBC Training Ground, a talent identification and athlete funding program designed to find athletes with Olympic potential and provide them with high-performance sport resources they need to achieve their podium dreams, that Gray saw his chance.

RBC’s Training Grounds put Gray along with hundreds of other athletes through a number of high-performance tests such as strength testing, sprints, vertical jumps and the shuttle run, or in other words the dreaded beep test from high school gym class.

View this post on Instagram

#rbctrainingground @cbcolympics #40metersprint

A post shared by CYRUS GRAY (@cyrussgray) on

Gray made it through the first round and found himself surrounded by B.C.’s top 100 athletes heading to Vancouver for even more testing. It was there that Gray found bobsleigh, or bobsleigh found him.

Despite not knowing much about the sport, when asked if he would go to Whistler and give it a try, Gray jumped at the opportunity.

“[The coaches] were just like, ‘You look fast and strong, come try it’ and so I went. It was a pretty scary,” Gray recalls.

Speeding down an ice-covered track, reaching speeds of up to 150 km/hour without being able to see might not be for the faint of heart but Gray says the first time he went down the track is an experience he won’t forget.

“I almost threw up my first time. I was so dizzy because you’re going so fast and your body isn’t used to that much pressure and G-force. It’s definitely a different experience.”

View this post on Instagram

🥇🇨🇦🥈#funisfast

A post shared by CYRUS GRAY (@cyrussgray) on

Gray says the skills used in basketball don’t transfer to bobsleigh, as young track athletes or weightlifters are usually better suited for the sport.

“It’s a completely different sport, you have to relearn everything — a whole new set of skills,” he says, remembering how he even had to relearn to run the correct way.

READ ALSO: Moose creates uber Canadian Olympic moment

Gray made it to the national team after doing a session with the development team and has been training for the 2022 Olympics for about a year.

With winter training based in Calgary, Gray is spending his summer at home on Vancouver Island, working hard and training most days at PISE — even building a dry-land sleigh to perfect his technique.

“We basically train like Olympic lifters in the weight room and like track athletes on the track, expcept it’s twice as tough because we’re heavier and we have to be faster,” he says.

Gray says the most difficult part of the sport is staying mentally focused throughout training.

“We lift everyday, we slide everyday … if your mind can handle it, your body can handle it.”

Being the only bobsledder on the Island, Gray wants to encourage other young athletes to continue pursuing their dreams. He says through hard work and determination anything is possible.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes to achieve your goals. It will happen if you keep at it — especially on days that you don’t want to train or do that extra rep — days like those bring out the best in you and prove just how strong you actually are.”

When asked if he thinks he has a good chance of making it to the Olympics, Gray answers calmly and confidentially. “We have a very good chance of going.”

Gray is hoping to find sponsors that will help him make his dreams a reality, but also wants to see the sport gain some attention on the Island.

“I’m the only bobsledder on the Island so a lot of people don’t know anything about it and I want that to change,” he says, adding that it’s not as scary as it looks.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Hundreds of foreign species still washing up on B.C. coast, eight years after tsunami

The Royal BC Museum is home to thousands of samples collected along the west coast of North America

Victoria first Canadian city to join United Nations tree planting challenge

The City of Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees by the end of 2020

Car drives into Vic West TD Canada Trust building

No one was injured, building damaged

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read