Track star Gary Reed has new baby. Well, two actually
Let’s get this straight: Gary Reed has been retired less than a year, yet he’s started a successful career in real estate in Vancouver, just became a Dad and now he’s launched a fund to help developing track and field athletes.
“I’m a busy guy, man,” laughed Reed in a phone interview.
And a modest guy, too. And given to understatement.
Reed was incredibly inspiring on the track, going where no Canadian has gone before in winning silver in the incredibly tough 800 metres at the 2007 world championships and barely missed a medal in finishing fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Yet, his greatest impact on the sport could well be in front of him.
The Reed Athletics Fund is no slap together venture (Check out the website). It has been well thought out and he has recruited people like him for his board of directors, people who aren’t in this for glory but are young, driven, focused and want to boost track and field in this country.
“I wanted people who were going to help me get stuff done and get stuff accomplished and make this thing happen.”
He hopes to turn the fund into the leading support for track and field athletes in their developmental years. They will make a four-year to eight-year commitment to an athlete depending on the athlete’s age and event, up to a maxium of $10,000 per year in support. Athletes will be selected based on athletic progress and potential, financial need and athletic and personal character.
“We’re looking at athletes that are at that stage where they’re on the bubble of whether they’re going to make it or not in our sport,” he said. “I think our success with the fund is going to be whether we can help them through those years or not.
“Our success is not measured on the fact that if these guys go to the Olympics and win a gold medal. Our success comes from bridging the gap between the really, really hard years and getting them through and onto the world class level and helping them in those years. That’s where our real focus is.
“Trying to get up there is track and field is an unbelievably daunting task. We’re trying to assist them with that. I think we can make a big impact, get behind some of these athletes and bolster them up. Hopefully, they’ll go on and do really well and make us all proud.”
Reed had it tough as a young athlete. He came from a very poor family and recalls how much it would help him as a developing athlete in Victoria when his future father-in-law showed up with a couple of bags of groceries.
“The littlest things can make a huge impact,” said Reed. “A lot of these guys are really redlining and they’re super talented. I was in the same position. If you don’t get through those years and on to the point where you can be a little bit more comfortable and take that stress out, you will walk away.
“It’s no secret our sport is hurting right now. There’s no question about that. We all know that. We saw that this summer at the world championships this past summer. I’ve taken it upon myself to do something about it. Everybody’s criticizing, there’s all this bad press. I read it all and thought ‘Well, who’s doing anything about this?’ It’s easy to sit back and criticize.”
Reed never was one to take the easy route. Heck, he was probably in track’s toughest event. His fund is an established non-profit and they’ve applied for charitable status. They’re seeking individual donations, but realize success in the long run will come from landing corporate sponsors.
One of the individual sponsors is Reed’s best friend, Dylan Armstrong, currently ranked No. 1 in the world in shot put and the world silver medalist. They grew up together in Kamloops.
This is an incredible challenge Reed has taken on, but there were few who really believed he could make it as a Canadian in the ultra fierce 800-metre universe.
And while Reed is enthused about the fund and trying to help the next generation, nothing can match his excitement over being a new Dad. His wife Kaitlin gave birth to daughter Sophie one week ago. The sheer enthusiasm in his voice gives you an idea of the kind of father that Reed is going to be. He grew up without the influence of a Dad.
“Your whole world is changed overnight. I’m loving it. I’m loving every second of it. She’s just awesome. We’re really excited.”