Before Evan Carey’s day turned to gold, it began as had so many mornings before.
There was a routine, training on a stationary bike and mobility exercises to loosen up.
But when the Oak Bay resident and his teammates on the men’s national sprint team entered the Cisco Pan Am Games Velodrome in Toronto, the crowd was like nothing Carey had ever experienced.
He remembers feeling awestruck by the huge gathering of Canadians and then, for a few minutes, nothing.
When the countdown timer started, Carey’s elite training kicked in and he readied himself to do the one thing he can do better than anyone else in the country.
Sprint team cyclists start off locked in a mechanical gate that springs open when the countdown reaches zero. Racers take off like thoroughbreds, with Carey designated as the lead racer. From zero to 65km/h, he needs to get to full speed in 250 metres before he can yield to his teammates who take turns on the final two laps.
“I do one lap as fast as I can, and then I get out of the way,” Carey said.
Fellow Canadians Hugo Barette and Joseph Veloce managed to keep the pace, winning gold and setting a new Canadian record in the process. The trio’s time of 44.241 was almost one second faster than the other finalists from Venezuela.
In the moment of Victory, the roar of the crowd returned “as soon as we came back to our senses,” Carey said.
“Nothing compared to how the Pan Am Games felt,” Carey said. “To be competing in a massive, multi-sport event in front of your home crowd … that was the extra (push) we needed.”
The 21-year-old was born and raised here, graduating from Oak Bay High in 2012.
He credits his coaches in the community with teaching him how to take his talents to the another level.
“They really instil that sports aren’t just about fitness,” Carey said. “If you are dedicated, (sports) can also take you to places you wouldn’t go otherwise.”
A former track star, Carey made the switch to competitive cycling at the age of 18.
The sport has already allowed him to travel at compete in Europe the Caribbean and South America.
Carey is set to begin his second year studying business at Camosun College this fall while continuing to race throughout the winter cycling circuit.
He’s off to Los Angeles to train for the Pan American Continental Track Championship in Santiago, Chile, Sept. 1-6.