Coaching Lives: Week nine Henry Gray

Henry Gray
Henry Gray
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Number of years as a coach: I have been coaching since I left school in 1975 aged 16 (36 years).

Club: We call ourselves East Coast Track Club in our area, but coach athletes from many different clubs.

Base: Eyemouth in winter, Berwick in summer.

Number of athletes: 20

Hours of training per week: Six sessions per week at two hours per session.

Greatest achievement in coaching: I have been lucky enough to have been involved with a number of great athletes over the years, including double world age-group champion in triathlon and duathlon Joyce Mark; Jill Mykura, world silver team medallist in hill running; Graeme Patterson, paralympian who was on the verge of this year’s Olympic team until he was injured. But I have to say my greatest achievement is training Guy Learmonth from the age of 16 and after winning Hawick games predicting to your own reporter John Slorance that Guy would one day be a top-class 800m runner which he definitely is, finishing fifth in the recent Olympic trials in that event.

Inspiration: I was very much influenced by my father Henry and his brother Addie Gray who were both top coaches and trained me up to the age of 16. I also came under the wings of a very influential Hungarian coach, Alexander Nagy, who had defected to Scotland during the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. From the age of 16, I was lucky enough to work under a number of great coaches who were not all athletic coaches, but nevertheless were a huge influence on my future career and they included Alastair Christie, from Gala, the former Scotland under-21 rugby coach; Hamilton Smith, Olympic swimming head coach in 1976 Montreal Olympics; and more recently, world-famous coaches Frank Dick and George Gandy, who were responsible for training some of the most famous sportsmen on the planet, including Boris Becker, Daley Thompson and Sebastian Coe. I also had the privilege of meeting one of my all-time inspirational heroes recently, Dr John Carlos from USA, who won a bronze medal in Mexico City in the 200m, but is now more famous for his black power movement salute in the 1968 medal ceremony, to highlight human rights for all.

What makes a good athlete: A good athlete must have a natural talent for the sport and if that is combined with a strong work ethic for training then you are going to have a very good athlete.

Most enjoy about coaching: Seeing my athletes improve after working hard to achieve their goals/target times and doing well in races, whether it be the Olympic trials, open athletic circuit or Borders cross country league.

Least enjoy: This summer has been a nightmare for weather and I can honestly say it was more enjoyable training my athletes in the winter this year – even though it was colder, it was dry. I also do not like drug cheats in the sport and do not believe they should ever be allowed back into sport if proved guilty.

Aims for 2012 and beyond: For Guy Learmonth to break through into a world class middle-distance runner and run in major championships for Great Britain and Scotland. For Maria Lyle to establish herself as number one in the world for 100m and 200m in the Paralympic T35 class and have two athletes in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. 
That would be a dream come true.