Against The Odds - Fourth Time Lucky For Elite Youth Campbell Gray
Surviving a perilously close encounter with mortality, Campbell Gray, an inspirational 20-year-old from Jervoistown, Napier, is poised to leave his mark on the 2024 Kathmandu Coast to Coast. Gearing up to compete in the newly introduced 2-Day Individual Elite Youth category, Gray’s path to this iconic multisport race is characterised by an extraordinary recovery from a near-fatal brain injury that unfolded on his 19th birthday.
On July 19, 2022, Gray’s life took a drastic turn when a seemingly routine hockey practice resulted in a life-threatening incident. Ignoring advice to spend his birthday with friends instead of at practice, a seemingly ordinary shot collided with his skull, resulting in fractures to his right temporal bone, optical bone, and jaw. The subsequent brain injury required immediate surgery, and his survival hung in the balance.
Fifteen months later, he is not only back on his feet but poised to compete in one of the most challenging multisport events—the Kathmandu Coast to Coast. The 2024 edition, scheduled for February 9 and 10, will witness Gray as one of the leading athletes to take out the Elite Youth category. This year marks his fourth attempt to stand on the start line at Kumara Beach, with the additional hurdle of COVID contributing to his delay.
"Despite facing a life-threatening injury, Campbell emerges as a top contender in this year's Elite Youth Category," says Race Director Glen Currie. "His inspiring comeback is a testament to his determination and encapsulates everything that the Kathmandu Coast to Coast represents—overcoming challenges with unwavering resilience."
With the goal of clinching the Elite Youth title, Gray's preparation for the event has been promising. In the Ōpōtiki Motu Challenge last October, he achieved victory over Sam Clark, four-time Kathmandu Coast to Coast Champion, with an impressive lead of five minutes and 17 seconds.
From struggling to maintain balance, walk, and talk in the aftermath of the brain injury, Gray has made a remarkable recovery. His dedication to sports and relentless spirit have brought him back to competitive form. "I can't live a life without sport," he adds, reflecting on his journey so far.
To follow Campbell Gray's journey from one side of New Zealand to another, download the Kathmandu Coast to Coast App, and follow #493 in the 2-Day Individual Elite Youth category.