Competing on Home Soil is a Great Advantage, says Wilkie

Date: 17/05/2013

Swimmer David Wilkie MBE is an icon of Scottish sporting success. His victories since the age of 16 are recorded at Olympic, World, Commonwealth and national levels. Not only did he make a huge impact on the record books, David was the first swimmer to wear a head cap and goggles together during a race, a combination that is now standard practice.

David is ranked ninth in the all time list of Scotland's most successful Commonwealth Games athletes having competed in two Commonwealth Games in 1970 and 1974.

Q: When did you first start swimming?

A: I started swimming in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) where I grew up. I swam nearly every day but all the swimming I did was recreational. I moved to Edinburgh at the age of eleven and trained at Warrender Baths Club.

Q: When did you receive your first Scottish cap?

A: This was in 1970, when I was 16, in a competition against England and Wales.  However my first big competition was the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh that year.  I only wish that I had had more confidence at this level as there is no doubt in my mind that at that stage I had the ability to win but did not know how to! (David won bronze in the 200m breaststroke).

Q: What are your major achievements?

A: 1972 Olympic Games - 200m breaststroke silver 1976 Olympic Games - 200m breaststroke gold & 100m breaststroke silver 1973 World Championships - 200m breaststroke gold & 200m individual medley bronze 1975 World Championships - 100m & 200m breaststroke gold 1970 Commonwealth Games - 200m breaststroke bronze 1974 Commonwealth Games - 200m breaststroke & 200m individual medley gold & 100m breaststroke silver

I consider my most significant achievements as winning my first World Championship title in 1973 and winning Olympic gold in 1976, on both occasions breaking the world record at the same time.

Q: Who or what inspired you during your swimming career?

A: Initially my father was keen that I participate in sport but never pushed me into swimming.  However the man that had the greatest influence on my swimming career was my first coach Frank Thomas.  When I went to the University of Miami, Charlie Hodgson, my coach there had the ability to turn me from an Olympic silver medallist into a triple World and Olympic champion.

Q: What did it mean to you to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games?

A: To compete for your country is a great honour.

Q: Did it make a difference competing on home soil in Edinburgh in1970?

A: To compete for your country on home soil is fantastic and gives you such a great advantage over your competitors because of your desire to please the home crowd!

Q: What advice can you offer to athletes aiming to represent Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014?

A: To be able to compete at the highest level you have to learn to win.  I know from experience that not being properly prepared for major competition is preparing to lose.