Aquatics GB pays tribute to David Wilkie

22 May 2024

Aquatics GB is saddened to hear of the passing of Olympic champion David Wilkie, aged 70.

Wilkie became a star of British swimming after surging to Olympic gold - and a new world record by more than three seconds - in the Men's 200m Breaststroke at the 1976 Montreal Games, as well as claiming silver in the 100m event. His Olympic title was the first time a British man had won a gold in the pool in nearly seven decades, and paved the way for what has become a legacy of breaststroke swimming in this country.

He had previously won 200m Breaststroke silver at the 1972 Olympics, while his stellar career included numerous world titles - a 100m-200m golden double at the 1975 World Championships among the highlights.

David also won European titles and multiple Commonwealth golds for Scotland, with his achievements seeing him awarded an MBE in 1977.

Paying tribute to Wilkie, Aquatics GB CEO Drew Barrand said: "David was one of the first British swimming icons - his name synonymous with our sport. An inspiration to many, he captured the hearts and minds of the country. He will be greatly missed by the entire aquatics community and our thoughts go to his family and friends at this difficult time."

On Wednesday (22nd May), David's family released a statement, saying: "It is with great sadness that the family of David Wilkie MBE announce that he died peacefully surrounded by his family this morning, following his brave battle with cancer."

Scottish Swimming National Coach Ian Wright said: "David was one of the most outstanding trailblazers for swimming in Scotland and I’m very sorry to hear of his passing. As a former coach at Warrender and National Coach for Scotland, I had the privilege of meeting David on several occasions and his passion for swimming has never wavered.  His world record gold medal winning swim at the 1976 Olympics still stands as one of the greatest performances of all time.

“His path to medal success, through a Scottish Club, continues to inspire our athletes and I sincerely hope his family takes great comfort from the continued success of our sport and the part David played in that.”

Team Scotland added on Twitter: "We're deeply saddened to hear of the passing of one of Scotland's sporting greats in David Wilkie. From Commonwealth bronze age 16 in front of a home crowd, to Olympic glory in 1976, he was an inspiration to so many. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time."

David Wilkie 1976 Montreal Olympic Games swimming shot [Getty]
David Wilkie on his way to Olympic 200m Breaststroke gold in 1976