Diver James Heatly finished a creditable ninth in the men’s 1m springboard final at the Royal Commonwealth Pool last night, setting a new personal best in the process.
The 17-year-old George Watson’s pupil qualified for the showpiece event after finishing tenth from a pool of 14 yesterday morning, setting the first of two PBs in the space of a couple of hours.
After accumulating a points total of 317.65 from his six dives in the morning, he then went and smashed this figure in the final by almost 30 points to give him a new PB of 345.60.
For a teenager just about to enter his sixth year at school next month, Heatly, the youngest in the competition field last night, is remarkably calm considering he has just represented his country at one of the biggest sporting events in the world and has done so in his hometown of Edinburgh.
He said: “I was amazed by my PB in the morning and then I’ve just gone and done it by about 30 points tonight so it’s great. I didn’t think I was going to make the final so to come ninth is amazing and I am over the moon with it.
“I’ve not had much experience so I’ve kind of seen how good people are and it’s given me a lot more enthusiasm and energy just to keep going after the Games and try and be as good them in the future.”
The gold was deservedly won by the England’s Jack Laugher, who was quite simply a cut above the rest of his opponents as he finished more than 45 points ahead of Australia’s Matthew Mitcham, who won silver, with Mitcham’s compatriot Grant Nel taking the bronze accolade.
The final itself was a tight affair throughout before Laugher showed his superiority and sailed away with an unassailable lead courtesy of a mix of dives in both the pike and tuck position, his best score from his six dives registering at 81.60 on the judges’ scorecards.
Heatly’s final dive of the evening was his best, coming in at 65.10, and he believes this has offered him renewed hope as he prepares for today’s favoured event of the men’s 3m springboard.
He said: “Three metres is definitely my favoured event so after doing well in the one metre which I’m not as good at or experienced at, it’s just put me in a good mind for today so I’m excited now. I just take the next competition as it comes.
“I definitely feel a lot more relaxed now that I’ve competed already.”
Despite his best scores coming in previous 3m events, Heatly admits he doesn’t expect to be in contention for a medal this evening should he qualify.
What he did acknowledge, however, was that the atmosphere inside the Royal Commonwealth Pool was the most intense he has ever experienced.
“No, not this time,” he said when asked about his medal hopes. “It’s the same as one metre as I’m still not as experienced I think.
“It was (the audience) absolutely amazing. I’ve never been in front of a crowd this loud or supportive.
“I felt it gave me that extra 20 per cent! It’s not really sunk in that I am actually competing at a Commonwealth Games.”
Heatly’s grandfather, Sir Peter, was also a diver, who won gold in the 10m highboard in both the 1950 and 1958 Commonwealth Games and gold in 1954 Games in the 3m springboard. If ever he requires inspiration for today’s final event, James need look no further than his own family for inspiration.