British Olympic swimming legend dies aged 70 after brave cancer battle

22 May 2024, 19:05

David Wilkie with his Olympic medals
David Wilkie with his Olympic medals. Picture: getty

By StephenRigley

Olympic swimming champion David Wilkie has died aged 70 from cancer.

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The Scot famously won gold in the 200metres breaststroke at Montreal 1976, breaking the world record by more than three seconds in one of the all-time great British Olympic performances.

Wilkie also claimed two Olympic silver medals and three world titles, completing the 100m and 200m breaststroke double in 1975.

He was voted British Sports personality of the year in 1975 and was awarded an MBE in 1977.

David Wilkie was a champion in the breaststroke
David Wilkie was a champion in the breaststroke. Picture: alamy

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In a statement his family said: "It is with great sadness that the family of David Wilkie announce that he died peacefully surrounded by his family this morning, following his brave battle with cancer."

Leading tributes Olympic silver medallist Sharron Davies, who was a team-mate of Wilkie’s at the Games in Montreal, wrote on X: "I am so sad to hear of the loss of Olympic champion superstar breaststroker, my first crush and definitely an inspiration, proud Scotsman David Wilkie. Sleep tight old friend."

He is survived by his wife, Helen, and children Natasha and Adam. Adam Wilkie said: “My dad was a truly wonderful man, father, and husband. He achieved so much in his life and those that knew him will never forget his love for life, kindness, and wonderful sense of humour.”

He remained involved in swimming after retiring from competing and helped develop technology around the sport.

Wilkie founded a company called Health Perception in 1986 and sold it for £7.8million in 2004.

In 2009 he helped found a pet food business.

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