If Edinburgh diver Grace Reid is to represent Great Britain at this summer’s Olympics in Rio, she better get used to dining with some of the sport’s biggest stars.
The former George Watson’s pupil was part of the 15-strong GB team that travelled to the Brazilian city last week to compete at the FINA Diving World Cup, a test event ahead of the Games which get underway in August.
The 19-year-old was in fine form as she secured GB’s 11th Olympic quota-place finishing 14th in the 3 metre springboard preliminaries. That said, she is still to qualify herself and will attempt to do so at the Olympic trials in Sheffield in three months.
But, aside from the upcoming challenges she faces on the diving board, the University of Edinburgh student revealed she will need to learn to eat within the company of Tom Daley and Co should she book her return ticket to Rio.
“Eating breakfast over there was one of the most intimidating things I’ve ever had to do!” Reid told the Evening News. “When you’ve got some of the world’s best divers staring at you across the table, it’s really daunting. And that goes for a lot of divers from all over the world, I have huge respect for them so it’s really strange being in their company. But I think with us having a bigger team out there really helped everyone gel.
“Everyone was really lovely. Quite a lot of us had never competed at a world event before and that was the same with some of the coaching team. But the more experienced ones made it feel as if it was just another competition.”
Reid, who represented Scotland at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi at the age of 14 and also competed in Glasgow two years ago, admits she was blown away with the facilities at the Maria Lenks Aquatics Centre. Asked if she’d have any resentment towards Team GB should she fail to qualify given her performance in Brazil last week, she said: “That’s just the way it works I suppose. Different countries have different policies and I’ve always been aware how GB operate. I think it would be a bit unfortunate but then again if I didn’t get the place last week and some other girl had got it and was then guaranteed a spot, I’d be really gutted I wouldn’t have the opportunity to qualify.
“We have the trials in June which will determine who gets to go so that’s my focus now. I think going over there last week and competing against the best in the world makes it feel quite real and that it is achievable. The dream is a bit closer so it’s been a massive boost.
“The prelims were really critical as we wanted to get that quota place for the country so making the top 18 achieved that. That was the main goal going out there so to achieve that was amazing. There were 56 girls in my competition so it was pretty tough.
“I didn’t dive my best in the semi-final finishing 17th and could have done better, but that’s the first time I’ve been on a world stage. I was massively nervous but we had quite a few days’ training to settle in and get used to the environment beforehand so that helped a lot. But competing in the Olympic pool was pretty incredible. It was the last chance for countries to secure all their spots so there was so much pressure on everyone.”
Despite several athletes having raised their concerns over the mosquito-spread Zika virus, a health problem that has been linked to more than 4000 suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil – a rare condition that causes abnormally small heads in infants – Reid says she hasn’t been deterred from pursuing her Olympic dream.
“We were given advice from some of the medical staff at British diving and we had a doctor out there as well,” she explained. “It’s all just about being sensible. it’s just one of these things when you go travelling that you’re maybe not used to.
“It is obviously a big concern for a lot of people but we had bug spray on, we were wearing long clothes but the likeliness of getting bitten out there is pretty high. It was the same protocol when we were in India for the Commonwealth Games in 2010 so it’s something I don’t really think about and just keep my focus on the job in hand.”