Misadventures from the Commonwealth Games

By Jared Gray

At only 20, Jared Gray is already gaining notoriety as one of New Zealand’s biggest powerhouses on the velodrome. As a junior in 2016, he was part of the NZ team pursuit campaign which brought home a set of rainbow bands and a World Record from the Junior World Championships. Since then he has been cutting his teeth with the elites, and has made the transition look easy. Since reaching elite level, he has attended multiple UCI World Cup events with the New Zealand Team Pursuit team, and winning gold with the team in Canada and Chile.

Hi, my name is Jared Gray and I’m a part of the NZ Men’s Endurance Track Cycling team. Earlier this year I competed at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

First off, being selected for this team was an incredible achievement as it was something I’d worked immensely hard for the past 6 months leading to selection. When I got off the plane in Brisbane airport I already had a sense of accomplishment!

I was 19 years old at the time, so I was far from being a veteran in the sport. Therefore, my biggest goal for the Games was to gain in as much experience as possible and soak in the atmosphere, as the Commonwealth Games don’t come around every weekend!

My only event was the Individual Pursuit, which is a 4000-metre dash around a 250m Velodrome. In Qualifying I was up against an Australian, I was stoked about this because I knew the arena would be extremely loud (for obvious reasons), this would help with getting my adrenaline going… A lot!

Walking up to my bike in the starting gate I took a glimpse up into the stands in front of me and it was a sea of people! thousands from the many Countries there are in the Commonwealth, an array of different colours of shirts and flags. This sight will stick with me for the rest of my life, I can only imagine what an Olympic Games crowd would look like.

I completed my Qualifying finishing 12th place, with a time of 4 minutes and 22 seconds (not far off 55kp/h from a standing start) This was a personal best time for me by a mere a second, personally I wasn’t too flattered by this time as I was hoping to go much faster. But to just ride and get soak in the atmosphere of the insane crowd was enough to balance out my feelings of the day!

CAMBRIDGE, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 17: (EDITORS NOTE : This image has been desaturated) Jared Gray poses for a portrait during the New Zealand Commonwealth Games Cycling Team Announcement at the Avantidrome on February 17, 2018 in Cambridge, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

As track cyclists, we were very lucky for our events to be the very first of the Games! The velodrome was in Brisbane which is an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast, this meant we stayed in a Motel while our racing took place. Once the racing was over, the majority of us congregated to the Village and enjoyed ourselves for 7 days.

Whilst in the village, nearly 100% of the things there were for free, whether that be: food and drinks, haircuts, games rooms, pools, a gym, tram rides into the city, tickets to other sports, and even tickets to all the theme parks! All these things were overwhelming at times as not once did I pull my wallet out! My mates and I took advantage at all there was to offer. This made the experience far more enjoyable as everybody had a superb time. It makes all the hard training sessions worth it when after the competition you and your mates can have fun!

Thank you very much for reading my highlights from my first Commonwealth Games experience.

Jared Gray