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“And It’s Wilkie!”: The Background to Iconic Commentary



“And It’s Wilkie!”

Legendary BBC Sports Commentator Alan Weeks was poolside.

And his three-word statement proved profound.

Montreal-Canada, played host to the 1976 Olympic Games where Scotland’s genuine hope of Medal success, rested on the broad-bronzed shoulders of David Wilkie. Outside the close-knit Swimming fraternity, it is fair to say the unassuming 22-year-old remained relatively unknown.

Then as now, Media focus leaned heavily towards Track & Field Athletes, who epitomised the commercial sports narrative. Wilkie undoubtedly possessed pedigree.

As an 18-year-old, he made his Olympic debut amid the fractious atmosphere of 1972 Munich, where he secured a Silver Medal over his favoured discipline of 200m Breaststroke. American John Hencken took Gold.

This eye-catching performance captured the attention of US talent scouts, who offered the youngster an opportunity to combine his aquatic talents with an academic scholarship within the prestigious University of Miami. Wilkie gratefully accepted the offer to hone his talent, whilst competing against the world’s most prestigious youngsters on the collegiate circuit.

His dedication and arduous training schedule reared year-on-year rewards as his profile grew. At the 1973 World Championships, Wilkie won the 200m Breaststroke crown, a title which he successfully defended two years later. At the ’75 Championships, the Scot also topped the podium over 100m Breaststroke.

Writing the Olmypic history books

In Montreal, Wilkie lined up against a familiar rival in John Hencken over both disciplines. The American’s renowned sprinting prowess held off his opponents in a tight finish over 100m, with the Scot settling for Silver once more. However the Olympic Champion proved no match for Wilkie over his preferred distance of 200m. In claiming Gold, he shaved an incredible three seconds off the previous World best time, becoming the first, and to date only Scot in Swim history, to achieve such exalted status at an Olympic Games.

UK Swimming has advanced exponentially, to become the prime harvester of Olympic Medal success, and David Willkie’s contribution is attributed as a major facilitator.

The sacrifices required to achieve Elite level success in Sport are particularly prescient in Swimming, where longevity is limited. David Wilkie, the 1976 Olympic 200m Breaststroke Champion, retired aged 22. By way of consolation, the words uttered by Alan Weeks, shall reverberate forever.

We hope you enjoyed this article ‘”And It’s Wilkie!”: The Background to Iconic Commentary’. Do you have any fond memories of the olympics from yesteryear? Let us know!

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Born in 1963, Peter attended St Mary's Leith High School. Peter worked within the plumbing industry before studying a degree in journalism within the University of Stirling. Peter has been a lifelong sports fan and has volunteered within the Edinburgh Soccer School's programme on numerous occasions.


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