Olympic swimming champion David Wilkie has died at 70. GETTY IMAGES

British swimmer David Wilkie, who won 200m breaststroke gold at the Montreal 1976 Olympics, has died at the age of 70.

Wilkie's family released a statement on Wednesday (22 May) saying, "It is with great sadness that the family of David Wilkie MBE announce that he died peacefully surrounded by his family this morning, following his brave battle with cancer."

Born in the former Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to Scottish parents, Wilkie learned to swim at the open-air Colombo Swimming Club before being sent to boarding school in Scotland at 11. He trained under coach Frank Thomas at Warrender Baths Club and went on to become the finest breaststroker in the world.

At 16, Wilkie was the first elite swimmer to wear a swim cap in competition at the Edinburgh 1970 Commonwealth Games, saying it was to keep his long hair in place. He won bronze for Scotland in what would become his signature event, the 200m breaststroke.

Two years later, Wilkie took a surprise bronze at the Munich 1972 Olympics behind John Hencken of the United States. However, the kidnap and killing of Israeli team members by Palestinian terrorists would leave an indelible mark on the young Scotsman. He told BBC's This Sporting Life in 2020, "On a terrace near where we were sitting we could see these Palestinian guys with masks and guns and the German police. It was right there in front of us. A breaking news story in front of our eyes. Horrific.

"I was 18. I didn't see any shooting but you grow up pretty quickly after seeing something like that."

After accepting a scholarship to the University of Miami, Wilkie went on to dominate the 200m breaststroke, beating Hencken to become world champion in 1973. He also won 200m individual medley bronze in Belgrade before claiming 100m and 200m breaststroke gold in Cali, Colombia two years later.

At the Montreal Olympics, he took silver behind Hencken in the 100m breaststroke before reversing the places emphatically in the longer event. Wilkie set an Olympic record in the heats and then broke the world record by three seconds to take gold. He was the only non-American man to win a race in the pool in Montreal.

A month after his second Olympic Games, Wilkie announced his retirement from swimming but remained involved in the sport on the technology side. He also co-founded healthcare and pet food companies, and made headlines in 2017 when - at 62 - he was warned for swimming too quickly and without due care and attention to other users of his local pool.

Montreal team-mate Sharron Davies expressed her sadness on X, calling him "my first crush and definitely an inspiration". Aquatics GB lauded him as "one of the first British swimming icons".