Roger Black

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For the insult comedian, see Roger Black (actor).
Roger Black
Roger Black 2011.jpg
Black in 2011
Medal record
Men's athletics
Competitor for  Great Britain
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta 400 m
Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta 4x400 m relay
Bronze medal – third place 1992 Barcelona 4x400 m relay
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1991 Tokyo 4x400 m relay
Gold medal – first place 1997 Athens 4x400 m relay
Silver medal – second place 1987 Rome 4x400 m relay
Silver medal – second place 1991 Tokyo 400 m
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 1986 Stuttgart 400 m
Gold medal – first place 1986 Stuttgart 4x400 m relay
Gold medal – first place 1990 Split 400 m
Gold medal – first place 1990 Split 4x400 m relay
Gold medal – first place 1994 Helsinki 4x400 m relay
Silver medal – second place 1994 Helsinki 400 m
Competitor for  England
Commonwealth Games
Gold medal – first place 1986 Edinburgh 400m
Gold medal – first place 1986 Edinburgh 4x400m relay

Roger Anthony Black MBE (born 31 March 1966) is a retired British athlete. During his athletics career, he won individual silver medals in the 400 metres sprint at both the Olympic Games and World Championships, two individual gold medals at the European Championships, and 4x400 metres relay gold medals at both the World and European Championships. Since retiring from athletics, he has worked as a television presenter and motivational speaker. In 2008, Black joined forces with fellow athlete Steve Backley and operate BackleyBlack LLP delivering Olympic Performance in the Workplace. Black has a collection of fifteen medals from major senior athletics competitions to add to his two European junior championship gold medals.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Gosport, Hampshire, to David (a doctor) and Thelma, with a twin sister Julia. He attended Alverstoke Church of England Primary School and Portsmouth Grammar School, becoming Head Boy in 1983/84. It was whilst playing football with a local team ( RPFC ) that he began demonstrating his prowess as a runner, scoring numerous goals as a flying forward leaving many defenders in his wake. He then joined athletics clubs, re-took one of his A-level exams and began studying medicine at the University of Southampton, but he left his course after three months as he had begun to achieve success as an athlete.[1]

Athletics career[edit]

He set the national 400 metre record of 44.37 seconds on 3 July 1996 in Lausanne, Switzerland but that was subsequently broken a year later by Iwan Thomas who shaved 0.01s from Black's time. Fellow GB athlete Mark Richardson also equalled Black's mark in 1998. Black's time stands as the second fastest of all time recorded by a British runner. Black was also part of the British 4 x 400 relay team which upset the strong favourites USA to win the gold medal in the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo.

Black came second in the individual 400m in Tokyo to Antonio Pettigrew. Pettigrew later admitted the use of performance-enhancing drugs from 1997 onwards in June 2008. No clear evidence has emerged – and Pettigrew never admitted anything further before his 2010 suicide – using performance-enhancing drugs during the 1991 season.

His greatest individual achievement in track and field was in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta when in the final of the 400m he finished in second place behind Michael Johnson, winning the silver medal in the process. However, partly due to injuries, he never rediscovered this form, and subsequently retired from the sport only two years later in 1998 after he was not selected for the 1998 European Championships.

Black was coached by Mike Smith and Mike Whittingham, and was sponsored by Reebok.

1997 World Championships[edit]

The World Championships' 4x400m originally saw the USA beat Great Britain by 0.18 seconds in a thrilling finale. Subsequently, US athlete, Antonio Pettigrew admitted to using performance-enhancing substances during this period.

On 7 January 2010, it was announced that Great Britain's 1997 World Championship 4x400m relay team are to be awarded the gold medal due to the disqualification of the USA team.[2]


In 1995 Southampton University gave Black an honorary degree and he was also rewarded by Queen Elizabeth II with an MBE.

Television career[edit]

In 1998 Black appeared on the children's news programme Newsround with fellow athlete Iwan Thomas reporting on childhood obesity.

Black has worked regularly for the BBC on programmes such as Tomorrow's World and Grandstand. In 2004 he was one of the celebrities that took part in the pro-am dancing contest Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One. In September 2006, he took part in BBC One's Celebrity MasterChef programme, reaching the final along with Matt Dawson and Hardeep Singh Kohli.


Black has written an autobiography, published by Andre Deutsch, entitled How Long's the Course?, ISBN 0-233-99644-3

Personal life[edit]

Black is married to Julia Burgess, with whom he had twins boys George and Max in 2006. Black also has a daughter, Isabelle from his previous marriage to Elsa de Vassoigne. Despite being born in Portsmouth, and attending the prestigious Portsmouth Grammar School, Black is a supporter of Southampton F.C.. In August 2014, Black was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[3]



  1. ^ Daily Mail Weekend Interview. 3 March 2012, p6
  2. ^ "BBC Sport - Athletics - Great Britain's relay heroes will finally be honoured". BBC News. 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2012-04-11. 
  3. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 

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