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)

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Forty-two residential properties in Oak Bay were assessed the speculation and vacancy tax in 2019 for a total of $693,000. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
74 Oak Bay property owners paid $693,000 in spec tax

42 properties were assessed with the SVT in 2019

Sipili Molia, regional kettle manager, shows off the Salvation Army’s new contactless donation system for the 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria raises record-breaking $350,000 for Salvation Army

The charity says it’s seen an increase in need since COVID-19 hit

Staff at Artemis Place Secondary were shocked to find that one of the student-built greenhouses on the campus was stolen overnight on Jan. 11. (Artemis Place Society/Facebook)
Saanich school hopes to catch greenhouse thief red-handed

Student-built greenhouses stolen from Artemis Place Secondary on Jan. 11

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said a lack of experienced crew members and the inability to detect navigational errors is what led to a Sooke search and rescue boat running aground in February 2019. (Twitter / @VicJRCC_CCCOS)
TSB: Sooke search and rescue boat crash caused by ‘misinterpretation of navigational information’

Crew members were lacking experience and unable to detect navigational errors

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

50 km/hr speed limit sign.
POLL: What do you think the speed limit should be on residential streets without a centre line?

Traffic on side streets around Greater Victoria could soon be travelling at… Continue reading

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

Luke Marston works on the seawolf mask for Canucks goalie Braden Holtby. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
B.C. Coast Salish artist designs new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open to Jan. 15

Most Read