Swimmer Elenor Gordon was the first Scottish woman to win Commonwealth gold. More amazingly, she set a new world record when she did it – and was only 16 years old.
With a father who worked as a lifeguard at Hamilton Baths, Elenor had plenty of opportunities for practice when she was growing up. And she made the most of it, becoming Scottish 200m breaststroke champion at the age of 14 – a title she held for ten years.
A year later, she was the youngest member of the British team at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. But it wasn’t until the 1950 Empire Games – later the Commonwealth Games – in Auckland, New Zealand that she won her first medal, in the 200m breaststroke. Afterwards, she received the Nancy Riach memorial medal for her services to swimming.
Elenor followed this success with a bronze at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where she was the only Briton to win a swimming medal. Controversially, the two women who beat her swam the newer and faster butterfly stroke. She won a further two gold medals at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, this time in the 3x100m medley relay as well as her favoured 200m breaststroke.
Elenor retired after the 1956 Olympics to raise a family. But remarkably, she returned to competitive swimming in her late fifties and sixties, entering Swimming Masters competitions alongside her husband Ken. Her final competition was the Masters Swimming Championships in Australia in 1994.
After being confined to a wheelchair due to a degenerative spinal condition, Elenor died in 2014 aged 81.
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