Former UT Arlington star motivated to become an Olympian

ARLINGTON -- Kennedale track coach James Polk remembers watching Cordero Gray on the Kennedale Middle School relay.

"The first time I saw him run was while he was in seventh grade," Polk said. "I knew he had lots of talent when he grabbed the baton on the anchor leg."

Gray is chasing a much bigger dream these days. The former two-time All-America selection at UT Arlington is in full-bore training for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials this summer in Eugene, Ore. Gray's specialty is the 100 meters, but he also runs the 200 and relays.

Gray's next competitive meet is Saturday's Bobby Lane Invitational on his home track at UTA. The 22-year-old Arlington native starred for the Mavericks from 2008-11 and is currently a volunteer assistant at UTA.

Gray will gladly put his budding coaching career on hold for a spot in London representing the USA this summer.

"I would be speechless if I had a chance to represent my country," Gray said. "I can't even describe how I would feel."

Earning a spot on the team won't be easy. Gray's personal best in the 100 meters is 10.12 seconds. He'll have to make a significant jump to qualify for the Olympic team. The top three at the trials make the team.

Gray likened his chances to an underdog during March Madness. Lehigh, anyone?

"No one is expecting too much from me," Gray said. "I haven't run too fast yet. Everyone is running 9.9s, and I haven't gotten there yet. I just need to continue working hard.

"I believe in myself and the workouts I'm doing. I'm working on my technique and making sure I stay relaxed going into my race. They say track is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, and as long as you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything."

UTA assistant track coach and former All-America sprinter Jordan Durham continues to coach Gray.

The two train at Maverick Stadium nearly every morning for two to three hours.

Gray is also working with strength coach Josh Strength.

"Cordero is a very driven individual," said Durham, another Kennedale graduate. "It's easy to coach an athlete who is motivated to improve every time he steps on the track."

Polk used the same sentiment when asked about Gray's chances of being an Olympian.

"Cordero was never the top sprinter in the country, but he always seemed to succeed and continue to get better," Polk said. "In saying that, he was always and still is very driven. I think he will have a great chance of making the team because he is humble and an extremely hard worker."

Gray's schedule after Bobby Lane Invitational includes the Texas Relays in Austin and World Masters in Sacramento, Calif.

A few more meets will be added before the trials.

The potential is there. Gray reached the semifinals of the 100 at the last year's USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

"He made the 'A' standard last year, which is an automatic qualification for the trials," Durham said. "This year he's leaner, stronger and faster. Hopefully, he'll be present in the final heat of the 100 meters of the trials."

"That's the plan," Gray said. "I've just got to continue to work hard, and continue to believe in myself and my coaches."