Ian Black won three gold medals in the pool at the 1958 European Championships – a unique feat that led him to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year at the age of 17.
The Inverness-born teenager is still the youngest winner of the coveted award, and he’s the only swimmer to have won the 400m and 1500m freestyle and 200m butterfly events at the same championships.
Even more impressive was the fact that, due to the lack of a pool in Aberdeen, he’d trained for his record-breaking performance in a tidal salt-water pool carved out of a rock in Guernsey.
Ian followed up his magical performance in Budapest with three further medals later that year. During the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, he again clinched gold in the 200m butterfly and added silver freestyle medals in the 400m and 4x200m relay.
After beating the likes of Bobby Charlton and Stirling Moss to win the TV award, Ian then broke the world record for the 400m individual medley in 1969, smashing it by four seconds.
The following year he headed to Rome for the Olympics where, despite high hopes, he narrowly failed to win a medal, coming fourth in the 400m freestyle. He was also a member of the British relay teams that finished fourth in the 4x200m freestyle and seventh in the 4x100m medley.
After hanging up his famous tartan pool robe, Ian – who was also a talented rugby player – taught in Canada, Bahrain and Hong Kong. He then became head teacher at Robert Gordon’s College Junior School in Aberdeen, where he’d once been a pupil and had started swimming decades before. He retired in 2004.
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