Obituary: Sir Peter Heatly, 91

Peter Heatly in 1950 after winning gold in the British Empire Game. Picture: comp
Peter Heatly in 1950 after winning gold in the British Empire Game. Picture: comp
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Tributes have been paid to legendary diver Sir Peter Heatly after he died last week at the age of 91.

Sir Peter went to Leith Academy before studying engineering at Edinburgh University, beginning his diving career at Portobello Amateur Swimming Club.

The Leith-born sportsman went on to win three golds, a silver and a bronze at the Commonwealth Games before later becoming chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Sir Peter won his first gold and silver at the then British Empire Games in Auckland in 1950.

He notched up more medals at the 1954 and 1958 Games – the latter while he was captain.

The respected diver remains the only Scottish athlete to have won a gold at three consecutive Commonwealth Games.

He also remains the only Scot to have scooped a medal for diving.

After retiring, Sir Peter took on a number of top roles in sports management, including as chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation – a position he held when the Games returned to Edinburgh in 1986.

He was awarded a CBE in 1971 and later knighted, before being inducted into the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Scottish Swimming Hall of Fame five years ago.

National governing body Scottish Swimming said Sir Peter had been synonymous with diving in Scotland since the 1930.

Watching his grandson, Jamie, follow in his footsteps at 18 was one of his most cherished memories.

His family will remember him as a sportsman who won the hearts of a nation but, most of all, as a loving dad and husband.

Son Robert Heatly, 57, said his dad’s “determination to get things done” had rubbed off on all four of his children. “He will be remembered by us first and foremost as a dad rather than a public figure,” Robert said. “We all get quite a lot of our character from him.

“From a family perspective we will all certainly miss him. At 91, he seems to have been around for a long time.

“He took life seriously, but he had a good sense of humour.”

He also praised his father’s sportsmanship and talent, as well as his dedication to the Commonwealth Games.

“What’s unique about him is the fact he attended 17 consecutive Commonwealth Games in an official capacity from 1950 to 2014,” he said.

“He was interested in them all, but the last Games in Glasgow were particularly special as Jamie, my son, was diving for Scotland. I think he was delighted and very proud. That was a very special moment, if you like, at the end.”

Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin said: “The legacy of his transformative impact on sport will always be celebrated and cherished.”

ALISTAIR GRANT