Roger Black – How the outstanding athlete from Portsmouth overcame health setbacks and went for Gold
One could say that Roger Black MBE, who was born in Portsmouth in 1966, started running before he even came into this world. Born 32 minutes before his twin sister, Roger was often one pace ahead of the rest. Growing up in a traditional household, Roger attended grammar school, was a good student and aspired to be a doctor, like his dad.
Whilst Roger enjoyed sport as a young lad, he never thought he would build a career out of it. Particularly when he found out, aged just 11, that he had a leaky heart valve, a condition that has stayed with Roger for life.
Sport became increasingly important to Roger over the years. And whilst he never joined a club properly, it was only when he messed up his Maths ‘A’ Level and took a year off to retake the exam, that he joined an Athletics Club. The rest, as they so rightly say, is Olympic and Great British History.
Roger went on to become the European Junior Champion in 1985, got his grades for Southampton University and pursued a degree in Medicine. After his first term though, Roger realised he wasn’t destined to wear a white lab coat and that the white lines of the running track were a’ calling.
Roger says of himself that he always gave 100% and wasn’t overly competitive. Yet, aged 19, and now as one of Britain’s best 400m runners under his name, running became everything. In addition to his heart condition, Roger experienced numerous injuries, but ensured that his mindset was such that he kept going – with the right team around him; positive mental attitude; focus; the best coaches and experts and a true desire to win.
In 1986, Roger went on to win The Commonwealth Games and European Championships and with the help of a sponsor, Roger bought his first house, aged 20. Whilst Roger knew he was at the top of his game, he was also more than aware of the fact that injury could stop him running at any point and that his sporting career was finite.
According to Roger: “Most successful athletes don’t get involved in sport for the money. It is usually passion that is the key driver and financial gain is secondary (although welcomed, of course). As a professional sportsman, I was focused, committed to the track and it was only when I was on the outside that I felt more exposed and vulnerable.
“Over the years, I often struggled due to injury and had to downsize my property to cover my medical bills. If I had invested in property way back then, I would have a solid portfolio today. Just because you are a good sportsman, woman or business person, that doesn’t automatically mean you will achieve greatness. The formula relies on more than ability alone and this is where I can help others.”
Next time we look at what Roger did next. How he created a training & performance business and his new partnership with Legacy Education Alliance.