George McNeill

Legendary Sprinting Champion

Former Scottish sprinting world champion, George McNeill is best known as the only man in history to have won both of the most famous professional races in the world. From his six-year stint as a Scottish Football League player to his world-renowned professional sprinting career, McNeill has amassed a variety of admirable skills in which he can teach through the method of after-dinner speeches.

Having grown up in Scotland, he began playing for both his local rugby union team as well as the Tranent Juniors football team. He was eventually scouted by Hibernian FC and became their apprentice. He made his first senior debut in a 3-0 victory against St Johnstone in 1965 before joining Greenock Morton in 1968 and Stirling Albion in 1969. It was when an old school friend entered him into the 1969 New Year Sprint that he discovered his passion for running. He was unable to compete in amateur athletic events due to his professional football career and therefore began competing at a professional level.

Whilst in the bid to qualify for the New Year Sprint final at the Powderhall Stadium, McNeill couldn’t help but notice the impressive performance of the winner David Deas. He tracked down his coach, Jim Bradley and began transforming his body in order to become the ideal figure for running. After a lot of dedication and training, George became the winner of the 1970 New Year Sprint in a record time of 11.61 seconds.

With his professional sprinting career in full swing, he won three out of four races against the then world champion Tommie Smith in order to take the title for himself in 1972. He also ran at the Stawell Gift for many years, he competed at three successive finals and won at the 1981 competition where he became the oldest ever to win the event.

He retired from sprinting in the 1980s and instead began channelling his passion for the track event into coaching. He managed to help Willie Fraser to win the 1985 New Year Sprint and David Clarke to second place of the Stawell Gift as well as coaching at Hearts and Livingston football teams. Following his induction into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, McNeill established himself as an inspiring figure within the sporting world. He now reflects on his career as an athlete to create the most effective and inspiring after-dinner speeches to corporate, school and sporting audiences.

To book George McNeill as the peak performance speaker for your corporate event, conference or other function, simply contact the Champions Speakers agency using the contact details below.

When at corporate events, George is known to cover the following topics:

  • Peak Performance
  • Leadership & Teamwork
  • Overcoming Adversity