Born: May 12, 1942;

Died: October 30, 2022.

LES Piggot, who has died aged 80, was an outstanding Scottish sprinter who in a long career enjoyed an impressive CV of competing in major championships – two Olympic Games, two European Championships, and two Commonwealth Games.

In the latter he was the only British athlete to reach the final in the 100m on both occasions. He represented Great Britain over 50 times, making his debut in 1965 and was team captain in the early 1970s. In addition, he represented Scotland in 13 internationals (excluding Commonwealth Games) over a 10-year period, during which he claimed nine first finishes including relays.

He also set several Scottish and British records, his most notable equalling the UK All-Comers’ 100m record in 1974. Domestically he was consistently successful in Scottish Championships, claiming 14 medals in both sprint events between 1964 and 1976, his final win in the 100m coming in 1976 when, aged 34, he defeated future Olympic champion Allan Wells. At British level he won five medals including indoors sprints.

Although prolifically successful in top-level athletics, Les also competed regularly at grassroots level in handicap races at Highland Games throughout Scotland, often seen puffing on a trademark cigarette between races.

The current era of elitism and specialisation would not countenance combining international and club level athletics but Les simply loved sprinting and competing. As a complete amateur, he and family made considerable sacrifices both in terms of time and economically to fulfil his talent.

Leslie Macdonald Piggot was born to John and Jean Piggot in Rutherglen where he was initially brought up with brothers Arthur, Douglas and Malcolm. He attended Cardonald primary school before the family moved to Blackpool for several years through his father’s employment as a master baker. As a result Les was between two education systems and on the family’s return to Glasgow attended Gallowflat Junior Secondary, where his practical abilities shone.

On leaving school aged 15 his first job was as a mailboy with the Coal Board prior to moving to Colville’s Steelworks in Motherwell where he began a career in sales. While there he was sent on an ‘outward bound’-type course to Moray Sea School at Burghhead where demanding Cairngorm treks and a sea crossing to Norway in tempestuous conditions were formative experiences.

As a youngster he had shown promise as a sprinter but his initial sporting enthusiasm was rugby which he played on the wing for Cambuslang.

Despite a serious car accident in his late teens when he broke his neck which required four months hospital treatment in traction and thereafter wearing a neck brace for six months, he resumed playing rugby.

Unsurprisingly his speed caused opponents serious problems, some of them resorting to ‘robust’ tactics to stop Les. The stage was reached in the early 1960s where he responded in kind, leading to a period of suspension when he could not play.

As a result he began to train for sprinting with Garscube Harriers in Glasgow, initially with guidance from coach Donnie Macdonald. For a period he combined both sports before concentrating on athletics with his wins in the 1962 Rangers Sports and Glasgow Police Sports heralding the start of his career.

Unfortunate not to be selected for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica despite having achieved qualifying marks, his first major Games were the 1968 Mexico Olympics where he was a member of the sprint relay squad. It fired his ambition further. He then rattled the amateur establishment by training with professional sprinters under coach Jim Bradley at a time when there was virtual apartheid between amateurs and professionals.

His move brought results with Les reckoning Bradley’s methods improved him by about three yards. A second Olympics followed in 1972 in Munich where he reached the quarter final at 100ms. and the semi-final in the sprint relay.

In the 1970 and 1974 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and Christchurch respectively he was eighth and seventh in the 100m finals, in the latter a mere fraction behind the silver medallist while unlucky not to medal in the relays, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

In the 1971 Helsinki European Championships he anchored the British sprint relay ream to fourth place, in same time as Italy, in third.

At times Les’s relationship with officialdom and the ‘blazerati’ could be uncomfortable, as exemplified by the reaction to his training with professionals and not being selected on occasion when he thought it merited.

After signing a letter to The Times in the mid 1970s along with other leading athletes, criticising lack of support from the governing body, his international career came to an end although he continued competing well until 1977.

On May 31, 1968 at St Andrew’s Church, Penilee, he married fellow international sprinter Morag Carmichael with whom he enjoyed a happy fulfilling marriage living in East Kilbride till her death in 1996. They had one son, also Leslie.

Athletics was very much part of family life and weekend competitions would often involve travelling to venues with their caravan and overnight stays. Sailing was another family pursuit. Les refurbished a number of boats which they sailed up the west coast, affording visits to their flat in Tighnabruaich while he continued working successfully in sales of plastics and lighting until he became self-employed in the early 1990s. Later he and friend Joyce Kelly enjoyed a mutually supportive relationship.

Les was a much admired and determined athlete, modest, popular and excellent company with a wicked sense of humour. He was a good, loyal friend to many and is survived by his son, Joyce, and grandchildren James, Louise and Stephen.