Ian Black to be honoured at Provost Skene’s House

Gordonian and former Head of Junior School Mr Ian Black (Class of ‘59) will be honoured by Aberdeen City Council at Provost Skene’s House. The youngest-ever winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award will feature alongside some of the north-east’s sporting champions.

Mr Mills, Head of College said: “We are proud to see that the sporting achievements of Ian continue to be recognised and celebrated for future generations to look up to. It is lovely to see a number of local sporting legends being featured alongside Ian. The redevelopment of the city centre and this historic site will further strengthen visitors to the city.”


Ian was born in Inverness in 1941 and showed an early talent for swimming. At the age of just nine he took part in the annual swim across the Moray Firth from Kessock to Inverness. When his father’s job took the family to Aberdeen in 1953, Ian began at Robert Gordon’s College where he was coached under the inspirational teacher Andy Robb and  became the finest swimmer in the country. By the age of 14 Ian was selected for the full Scottish team and a year later swam for Great Britain. In his special year, 1958,he took five titles at the British championships, he won one gold and two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff and won three gold medals, breaking five European records, at the European Championships in Budapest. He was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year, aged only 17 and  remains the youngest sportsman ever to win. 

After leaving Robert Gordon's College in 1959, he went on to break two world records. Still coached by Andy Robb, he finished 4th in the 400 metres freestyle at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. He retired from international swimming in 1962 when he was studying at Aberdeen University. His working life was spent in business and education in Scotland, Canada and Hong Kong, before he returned to Robert Gordon’s College as Head of the Junior School from 1990 to 2003.

Long after his sporting days he continues to be recognised for his achievements. In 2002 he was one of the first 50 sportsmen to be elected to the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was also chosen as one of the first 16 names in Scottish Swimming’s Hall of Fame.