James Heatly aims to honour ‘trailblazing’ grandfather on Gold Coast

Team Scotland's diver James Heatly during a photocall at Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Team Scotland's diver James Heatly during a photocall at Kelvingrove Art Gallery
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Diver James Heatly hopes to honour the memory of his late grandfather by keeping up their family’s medal-winning Commonwealth Games tradition.

Sir Peter Heatly – who died in 2015 – still ranks fourth on Team Scotland’s all-time honours list having claimed a hat-trick of golds among five diving medals during three Games appearances between 1950 and 1958.

James Heatly with his grandfather,  Sir Peter Heatly

James Heatly with his grandfather, Sir Peter Heatly

Now the former Olympian’s 20-year-old grandson aims to make a splash of his own as he prepares for the start of the Gold Coast 2018 action in six weeks.

“My grandpa was the reason I started diving so it’s quite nice to carry on the family link,” the Edinburgh athlete said.

“My dad was in the Marines and for a spell we lived in America in Virginia Beach. We had a pool in our garden, so we used to put a trampoline next to it and dive in.

“Grandpa came over to visit around that time and that was when he started teaching me some moves. We moved back to Scotland shortly after and that was when he said I should start diving properly. I did and I’ve never looked back since.”

James – who is preparing for his second Commonwealth Games having competed at his home pool in Edinburgh when they were part of the Glasgow showcase four years ago – added: “Grandpa passed away a couple of years ago but was there for Glasgow 2014 to see me compete, which was really nice.

“He was a three-time Commonwealth champion, so I suppose there has always been a bit of pressure on me because of that but I’ve never seen it like that. It just means I can talk about him rather than me.

“I’ve managed to see quite a bit of footage of him diving. He was the first person in Britain to do a front three-and-a-half somersault from 10m, so he was a trailblazer.

“He was also chairman of the Scottish Sports Council for a long time, so this will be the first Games he has not been at since his first one in Auckland back in 1950. That’s quite sad but winning a medal would be a fitting way to honour his memory. I’d love that.”

James was the youngest member of the Team Scotland diving contingent last time out but made the finals of both the one-metre and three-metre springboard competitions.

Now he is hoping to make improvements on his 2014 results down under.

“This is my second Games – I was at Glasgow last time out. It’s going to be a lot different this time,” said James, who was among the latest 92-strong batch of Team Scotland squad members whose seat on the plane to Australia was confirmed on Wednesday morning.

“Glasgow was about picking up as much experience as I could and getting a taste for it.

“This time round I’m looking to improve my performance. I made both finals last time so this time I want to up my ranking and maybe even get a medal.

“I’d say I’ve got an outside chance of that – but nothing is guaranteed in diving.”

Other notable inclusions in the Scotland squad announced yesterday were Heatly’s fellow Edinburgh divers Grace Reid and Lucas Thomson.

Cyclist Callum Skinner, who won gold in the 2016 Olympics team sprint and silver in the individual, is also part of the camp for Australia, as is Edinburgh-born Jonathan Wale and South Queensferry’s Louise Haston.

Lothian hockey players Chris Grassick, Cameron Fraser, Duncan Riddell, Amy Brodie, Camilla Brown, Amy Costello, Mairi Drummond, Sarah Jamieson and Lucy Lanigan are also heading down under alongside Capital wrestler Joe Hendry, Uphall gymnast Shannon Archer, and city badminton aces Julie McPherson and Martin Campbell.