Commie pool is the perfect springboard for City duo

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Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games this summer, but for Grace Reid and James Heatly it is the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh that will offer the chance to become stars of the show.

The deadly duo from Edinburgh Diving Club – both pupils at George Watson’s College – are following in famous footsteps and aiming to continue a proud Scottish tradition in a sport that demands strength, agility and a brave heart.

Grace Reid and James Heatly. Pic: Neil Hanna

Grace Reid and James Heatly. Pic: Neil Hanna

Heatly is the grandson of Sir Peter Heatly, one of Scotland’s sporting greats and a winner of five Commonwealth Games diving medals, including gold in 1950 in Auckland, 1954 in Vancouver and 1958 in Cardiff.

Looking forward to celebrating his 90th birthday in June, Sir Peter is the only Scottish athlete to have won titles at three consecutive Commonwealth Games and is the only Scot to win a diving medal.

But maybe that could change in July. For Reid is certainly worth a punt to make it onto the podium. She doesn’t turn 18 until next month but she is already a veteran of a Commonwealth Games, a former European Junior Champion and has come close to a medal with a fourth place at the European Championships.

“This will be my second Games so I’ll have a lot more experience and that’s a bonus,” said the teenager who was the youngest member of Team Scotland at the 2010 Games in New Delhi. “The fact that it is in my home pool is another huge advantage.

“Compared to four years ago, I am a completely different person. The biggest lesson I learned from Delhi was to treat the Games as just another event. I know it’s difficult, but I just have to think about it any other competition.

“As for expectations, I am going to need a clear head, attempt to do a personal best and try not to think about medals or anything else.”

For 16-year-old Heatly, a first Games is a whole new stage. A diver since the age of ten he admits that his grandfather has played a massive role. “He’s the reason I took up diving and it’s great to be following a family tradition,” he said.

“This is my first Commonwealths and it is going to be great to be at home. I’ve made friends with the boards at the Commonwealth Pool and there will be lots of crowd support. My goal is to achieve a personal best.” Reid and Heatly have both been coached by Jenny Leeming at the Edinburgh Club since the Commonwealth Pool’s refurbishment years ago. A former gymnast and diver from Leeds, Leeming is thrilled by their progress.

“They’re both great,” she said. “It has been huge for James to qualify for a Games debut while Grace now has a lot of experience. The women’s diving will be tough with English, Australian and Canadian rivals, but the door is open for her to challenge for a medal.”

Once the Games are over, the next big target for both could be the Olympic Games in Rio. But they both know that top-class diving is a precarious career.

“Two years is a long way away,” suggested Reid, who knows that illness and injury can blight ambitions. She missed a huge chunk of training last summer when she was struck down by a suspected appendicitis that turned out to be a cyst. “But after I finish school this summer I will be taking a gap year to concentrate on 
diving,” she added.

Leeming is certainly hopeful that both her star talents will continue along diving’s Olympic pathway that has been under the spotlight thanks to Tom Daley and his bronze medal from London 2012.

As for Sir Peter Heatly, a Life President of Commonwealth Games Scotland, Glasgow 2014 will be his 17th Games in a row. And when young James dives into action, it could be his proudest moment of all.