Neil Black, who was the former performance director with UK Athletics has died at the age of 60. A statement by the UKA said that Black died over the weekend.
Black was with the UKA for 7 year until he stepped down in 2019, following the banning of Alberto Salazar, who was a consultant for the UKA. Salazar, who had the strong support of Black, was given a four-year ban for doping.
Black, who has always been active in British athletics took on the role of performance director in 2012 after the London Olympics. Since then, he had worked with the UKA, providing them with advice and directions where necessary.
Way before the administrative positions, Black was an athlete, popular for his cross-country performance. He was also a sport physiotherapist and was the personal trainer for four-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Mo Farah. Even after he left the position, he still continued to provide advice to coaches and athletes alike.
Part of the reason why Black left in October 2019 was a result of the backlash he received due to the underperformance of British athletes in Doha, Qatar, at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championship. The banning of Salazar, who Black strongly supported, affected his decision to step down.
The UKA expressed their shock at the news of his passing away, describing him as someone who “loved the sport of athletics and dedicated his life to supporting athletes.” Mo Farah called Black “a great man”, saying “I have lost a good friend…known him since I was 14 years old. Neil supported me all the way in my career since I was kid. My heart is broken.”
Many other athletes, including the world 200m champion, Dina Asher-Smith, had something to say about him. Dina described him as a “caring and kind-hearted man whose sense of humour and positivity would light up a room.” Hannah England attributed her 2012 Olympic appearance to the support she received from Black.
Written by: Leon Osamor