RAY Scovell is the Isle of Wight’s Mr Athletics.

Born in Northwood on the Island, married to Rosemary and with two daughters, Ray left school at 15 to join the Royal Navy.

He has since gone on to become one of the Isle of Wight’s top athletics coaches and is the brainchild behind the popular Medina parkrun, now entering its tenth year.

Isle of Wight County Press: The organiser — Ray Scovell has been instrumental in making Medina and junior parkrun a success. The organiser — Ray Scovell has been instrumental in making Medina and junior parkrun a success.

A self-taught throwing coach, who picked up the basics from the local library, Ray went on to help the likes of Andy Frost become a GB medal winner on the international stage.

Ray, of Sandown, also established junior parkrun more than two years ago and has been a coach for the Isle of Wight Athletic Club for almost 30 years and was the Team Isle of Wight's Island Games co-ordinator in 2011.

As a result of his coaching achievements, Ray has gone on to win numerous awards — most notably the 2017 Isle of Wight Sports Achievement Awards for service to sports on the Isle of Wight.

Isle of Wight County Press: The athlete — Ray in action in the New Forest Half marathon in September 1988.The athlete — Ray in action in the New Forest Half marathon in September 1988.

To find out more about Ray and what has made him tick over the years, sports editor Jon Moreno did a Q&A:

When did you first start playing your sport and what attracted you to it?

A: In 1984, I reached the age of 40 and found a new challenge. I was introduced to running by a fellow worker, Peter Hurst, at Temperature, Lake, and joined Ryde Harriers.

What have been the highlights of your sporting life so far?

A: Running the London Marathon in 1990, coaching hammer to Andy Frost, Amy Clarke (nee Church), Callum Woon, Paul Farley, to medal winning performances at English Schools Championships, and introducing Nick Percy to throwing at a young age.

Nick also achieved medal winning performances at discus and hammer and represented Scotland.

I also coached Stephen Duff, who won gold and silver medals and two fourth places at the World Fire and Police Games, in Fairfax, Virginia.

Other highlights were my role as athletics coordinator for the Nat West Island Games, in Sandown, Isle of Wight, in 2011 and attending the Commonwealth Games in Australia to see Frost just miss out on a medal in fourth.

Who do you look up to in your sport and why?

A: Mick Jones, the Commonwealth Games hammer champion. He is a gentleman and helped me for many years while I coached Andy Frost. I learned much from Mick.

Isle of Wight County Press: The winner — Ray has won numerous accolades as a coach, which includes one at the Isle of Wight Sports Achievement Awards 2017.The winner — Ray has won numerous accolades as a coach, which includes one at the Isle of Wight Sports Achievement Awards 2017.

Who has had the most influence on you in your sport and in what way?

A: I did my very first coaching award with Graham Tuck, who was such an inspirational character, I threw myself into coaching with the same enthusiasm.

The person who motivated me to do more, was the late Ted Stockbridge, who introduced me to sports hall athletics in primary and middle schools — the good old days — which I then introduced into club athletics. 

What are your aims in your sport?

A: To get more children active in athletics and cross-country, more people active in 5km parkrun and more children in junior 2km parkrun.

Tell us something nice about one of your athletics team-mates.

A: Nick Groocock. He is one of the most committed coaches I have ever met and his commitment to the Island Games athletics team is outstanding.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen in your sport?

A: While I was in the United States for the Olympic Games, the throwing circle was painted in white gloss paint, then we had torrential rain one day and the officials were trying to dig the long jump pit, which was waterlogged, using a rotavator, which just kept burying itself.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ray Scovell celebrating the 250th Medina parkrun.Ray Scovell celebrating the 250th Medina parkrun.

What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of participating in your sport?

A: The cost to members of the Isle of Wight Athletic Club to travel to the mainland for our four Wessex League matches.

What are your best qualities in your sport?

A: Coaching knowledge, patience and enthusiasm.

What other sports have you played and what were your achievements?

A: Hockey in the Royal Navy. I played for my squadron.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ray receiving an accolade to mark the 400th Medina parkrun. Ray receiving an accolade to mark the 400th Medina parkrun.

What’s been the most memorable event or match you’ve participated in and why was it so memorable?

A: Taking young athletes around the world, competing in the World Island Youth Games for ten years. Athletes included James Groocock, Kim Murray, Nick and Brogan Percy, Tom Wade, James Forman, Pascha Burgoyne and Jessica Andrews.

This event was huge for the young athletes and it gave them a taste of international competition.

How would you sum up or describe the team at the Isle of Wight Athletic Club?

A: A great group of enthusiastic young athletes all striving during their training in all weathers to achieve higher standards of performance in their respective events, as well as having a great attitude and being very disciplined.

They are ambassadors for the Island at our matches.

Tell us something about you that your team mates wouldn’t know?

A: Rosemary and I attended one of the Queen’s garden parties at Buckingham Palace in July 2004.

Do you have a set routine in terms of preparation on a match day?

A: Early starts and late finishes and having good timekeepers and track and field officials.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ray Scovell with his medal after completing the 1990 London Marathon.Ray Scovell with his medal after completing the 1990 London Marathon.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Enjoy what you do. 

What’s the worst part of training for you?

A: Standing out in the wind and rain on winter nights.

What would you say is the easiest part of your sport?

A: Children want to come willingly to learn.

Do you have a motto that you follow in your sport?

 A: I have, through my life, kept this thought close to me it says who I am — why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.

Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ray at the Island Games in Gotland 2017.Ray at the Island Games in Gotland 2017.

What lessons for life have you learned through your sport?

A: Being very self-motivated.

What would you say to somebody to recommend them to your sport and your club?

A: Come along to one of our training sessions — watch if you would like, or participate, talk to the coaches. We accept all abilities. We are not elitist.

What have been the benefits to you by doing your sport?

A: I have travelled the world and met wonderful parents and coached many great children. It has given me tremendous opportunities to meet some great people and be part of an inspiring group of coaches and helpers, all volunteers.

Is there a sport you haven’t tried but think you might be good at — and why?

A: Lawn bowls. It just appeals to me.

What advice would you offer to a youngster starting out in your sport?

A: Athletics gives children another value in their lives. It sets them goals and gives them added discipline — but we want it to be fun too.

Anything else you would like to say about yourself or your sport?

A: In my athletic life, I have done many things and hope to keep on going as long as I can.

My biggest success story has been parkrun. When I first presented it to the Isle of Wight Road Runners, with a presentation talking about something I knew nothing about — only what I had read — it seemed a bit daunting.

They were quite enthusiastic, but I thought afterwards that perhaps people will not get there for a 9am start on a Saturday.

But without the help of Stephen Duff, who supported me for many years, I would have struggled on my own.

We plotted courses, marked them, measured them, and when the trial day arrived, by invitation, we ran it and it worked.

From that day in 2011 to present, we have grown and now Junior Parkrun on a Sunday is growing too.

Medina Parkrun celebrated its ninth birthday in lockdown on Saturday.