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On this day: David Wilkie wins Olympic gold

Thirty-seven years ago today, David Wilkie won Olympic gold in the pool at the Montreal Olympics.

When the 1976 Olympic Games got underway in Montreal, it was predicted that the USA would dominate men's swimming.

True to form, they did. There was 13 medals up for grabs in the pool and America claimed 12 of them.

But who snuck up on the blindside to take the other gong on offer? A Russian? A German or someone from the Far East? No, it was in fact David Wilkie, who had been born in Sri Lanka to Scottish parents and was sent to boarding school at Daniel Stewart's College in Edinburgh at the age of 11.

Breaststroke was Wilkie's main discipline and he was good at it. He had previously won the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, but he still was not expected to break the American stranglehold.

David Wilkie in the pool after competing at the Montreal Olympics.© PA Photos

On July 20 he had actually finished second in the 100m to John Hencken. The pair met again on this very day over 200m and it was viewed as Wilkie's best opportunity to win gold.

Hencken was regarded to have stronger arms, which made him quicker over shorter distances, but Wilkie's power was in his legs, allowing him to outlast many of his opponents.

It was that stamina that saw Wilkie overcome his major rival that evening by several metres, doing so in a new world record time of 2:15.11. What's more, he had become the first Briton to claim an Olympic gold swimming medal for 68 years.

And that in turn brought the curtain down on his career - he decided to retire while at the very top of his sport.

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