Sir Peter Heatly hopes young diver James will make a splash too

Sir Peter shows off the three Commonwealth golds he won during his illustrious career
Sir Peter shows off the three Commonwealth golds he won during his illustrious career
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As one of the country’s greatest ever athletes, former diver Sir Peter Heatly is hoping he has passed on his talents as his grandson dreams of making the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Leith-born Sir Peter, 87, said: “I am delighted he is diving and am just looking forward to seeing how he goes.”

Sir Peter, who now lives in Balerno, competed in many high-profile events throughout his career, including the Olympic Games when they were last held in London in 1948. He was also the Scottish champion for 12 years from 1946 to 1958.

Now his grandson, James Heatly, 14, a pupil at George Watson’s College, has become the Scottish national diving champion and is hoping to make the British squad for the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Glasgow in 2014.

Sir Peter was 24 when he competed in the 3m springboard and 10m highboard diving competition at the 1948 Olympics.

He said: “The 1948 Games were unique because there had not been any held since Berlin in 1936. There was an element of fun, but there was a seriousness at the same time.”

The diving competition next summer will be held in the £269 million Aquatics Centre in east London, which has been built especially for the Games.

Yet Sir Peter did not enjoy the same kind of facilities in the build-up to 1948 as he had to travel from his Edinburgh home to a naval base in Rosyth to train.

“It was hard to do it and I was the only one there who was using it for that purpose,” he recalls.

“I had the advantage of going to London sometimes and meeting other divers and coaches and benefiting from that, it felt like I was doing the right thing.”

He had won one Scottish championship before the Second World War punched a six-year gap in his diving career, getting back into diving when the conflict ended, determined to make the Olympic team.

“The reason I managed to get access to Rosyth to train was because I was a civil engineer working in the dockyard,” he said. “I became a family man in 1948 and was married, so it was quite difficult to do it all but the easy part of it was that I was anxious to do it.”

Sir Peter went on to claim three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, and compete at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.

He then moved into sports management and served as chairman of the Scottish Sports Council from 1975 to 1987, and as chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation from 1982 to 1990. Sir Peter was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 – an accolade his grandson can only dream of at this stage.

Sir Peter’s son Robert, from Balerno, said: “We’re delighted at how it is going for James. As long as he is enjoying diving, that is all that matters.”