Neil Black dead at 60: Ex-UK Athletics chief dies as Olympic stars pay tribute

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Former UK Athletics performance director Neil Black has died aged 60.

Black took up the UK Athletics performance director role in September 2012 after Charles Van Commenee left his position as Olympic head coach.

He left in October 2019 following Great Britain’s disappointing showing in the World Athletics Championships in Doha and amid controversy over his support for banned US coach Alberto Salazar.

Black was a physiotherapist at UK Athletics before moving up ranks to take the top job.

He coached Sir Mo Farah from 2011 to 2017 during which he won four Olympic and six World Championship golds in 5000m and 10,000m.

A British Athletics statement read: “British Athletics is shocked and saddened to confirm the loss of our friend and former colleague Neil Black who passed away suddenly at the weekend.

“Neil loved the sport of athletics and dedicated his life to supporting athletes – as a world class physiotherapist, as head of sport science, and then in recent years as Performance Director for British Athletics.

“Since leaving the role of UKA Performance Director in October 2019, he had been continuing to support a number of athletes and coaches as an advisor.

“Neil will be hugely missed by those that knew and worked with him. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

British Athletics added that Black’s family had commented: “We would like to thank people for the wonderful and heartfelt messages we have received. So many people have been in touch, it is clear to us how loved Neil was and this is bringing us some comfort at this time.”

Tributes have been made for the late athletics chief, with Katharine Merry, who claimed bronze in the 400m at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, revealing her shock.

She wrote: “What sad news to wake up to. The passing of Neil Black is truly a shock to the world of athletics and to all that knew him for so long… Blimey .. I can’t believe it…”

Kelly Sotherton, who starred for Team GB at the 2004 and 2008 Games, added: “He came everywhere with me and made sure I was held together physically and mentally. So many things I want to say… I’ll miss you forever Neil Black.”

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