Sir Menzies Campbell has raced Britain at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and has previously held the British 100m record, but nothing could have prepared him for this closely fought Liberal Democrat leadership election..

He was appointed the party leader today defeating defeating Chris Huhne 57% to 43% after a six week campaign between him, Chris Huhne and Simon Hughes.

Sir Menzies, 64, has voted consistently for gay rights. He supported the equalisation of the age of consent, for the scrapping of section 28 and the introduction of civil partnerships.

The MP for North East Fife had been acting leader since Charles Kennedy resigned in January.

He is rumoured to have considered standing for the post in 1999 after Paddy Ashdown stood down, but now he takes charge of a party looking to become a genuine, clear, real alternative.

The party leader competed in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and captained Scotland at the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Jamaica and the British athletics team in 1965. He held the British 100 metres record for seven years between 1967 and 1974.

A spokesman from gay charity Stonewall told PinkNews.co.uk: “The Liberal Democrats have always been supportive of lesbian and gay issues and we would expect this to continue under Menzies Campbell.”

Kelvin Meyrick of DELGA, the Liberal Democrats gay group, has welcomed the election of Menzies Campbell today as the new Liberal Democrat party leader.

He said, “My congratulations to Menzies on his victory. The leadership election has shown off the talent and values of our party, and after what has been a friendly contest I am sure the party will be able to unite around Menzies this weekend in Harrogate ahead of May’s council elections.”

“As Chair of DELGA I can also feel confident that Menzies Campbell will be a proud and consistent advocate of the cause of LGBT equality, as were his predecessors Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy.”

“In the midst of the leadership election the party stunned the press with our byelection victory in Dunfermline West Fife. United under Menzies’ leadership, we can look forward to greater successes to come.”