John McNiven enjoyed a remarkably long and successful weightlifting career, winning two Commonwealth medals and 25 national championships.
Born in 1935, the 5ft 2in powerhouse took up weightlifting while on National Service in Cyprus. In 1966, he made his Commonwealth debut, making the first of six appearances at the Empire Games in Jamaica.
Four years later he clinched Scotland’s very first medal of the renamed Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, collecting bronze in the flyweight category. In 1974 he was back on the podium at the Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, again coming third in the flyweight competition.
John was ever-present in the Scottish team until the Games were staged in Edinburgh again in 1986. By that time he was 51 and his 27-year-old son, John Jnr, was also in the weightlifting squad – the only father and son ever to compete in the same Games.
John’s Commonwealth medals hung beside his 25 Scottish National Championships and he also competed in 18 World Masters events, triumphing on 14 occasions. Other successes included the World and European dead-lift titles, during which he smashed the European record.
In 1993, he was awarded the MBE and also became the first person to receive the World Masters Weightlifting Hall of Fame Award.
He went on to organise the hugely successful 1999 World Masters Championships in Glasgow, which attracted over 450 competitors. John continued to be involved in the sport in his 70s, officiating at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
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