Capital diver James Heatly has expressed his delight after he and synchro partner Freddie Woodward managed to hold their nerve and pull out one of their best ever dives when it was needed at the weekend in Kiev.
Edinburgh Diving Club’s Heatly, 20, returned home yesterday clutching a bronze medal having finished third in the men’s 3m synchro event at the European Championships in Ukraine.
It was the biggest result of Heatly’s career to date and was extra special for him given that his grandfather Peter Heatly, who passed away in 2015, had won a medal in the same championship some 63 years previously.
Peter Heatly competed in the European Championships in the men’s 10m platform event in Turin, Italy, in 1954 and won a bronze medal behind Roman Brener and Mikhail Chachba both of the Soviet Union.
Having finished ninth in the men’s 3m individual event on Friday, Heatly was feeling good heading into Saturday’s synchro event.
With Woodward he had also won a gold medal for Great Britain at the FINA Grand Prix in Puerto Rico last month, but the field at this meet was much stronger and included a number of Olympic medallists.
After five dives they were hanging on to the coat tails of Germans Patrick Hausding and Stephan Feck who were in third place.
The Germans were on 323.01 points and the British duo were on 317.07 points.
With Russia, who eventually went on to win gold, and Ukraine battling it out for the top spot there was also a battle going on for the bronze.
“I tend to look at the scores throughout a competition while Freddie prefers to stay away from them and just keep focused, so after the fifth round had finished and then the Germans had completed their final dive I knew what we had to do to try and get third,” Heatly recounts.
“Heading into the event we were feeling good after some good training sessions, but we knew that the Russians, Ukrainians, Germans and others like the Italians had more big time experience than us.
“We said to ourselves that if we could hang on in there around fourth or fifth place then you never know what can happen, and so it proved.
“As I was coming out of the water after the last dive I felt it had gone well, but you are never sure until the judges’ scores go up on the big screen.
“I knew what Germany had posted overall [393.39] so when our final score of 395.61 [after a final dive of 78.54] popped up on the screen I knew we had gone ahead of them and there was no other pairs left who could catch us.
“My instant reaction was to give Freddie a hug, but as he hadn’t been keeping tabs on the score it took him a couple of seconds to realise that we had won bronze and then we celebrated with our coaches Nick Robinson-Baker and Tom Owens.
“It means so much to us both because we have worked hard for this and we will hopefully get more opportunities to dive together going forward.”
The medal was one of six picked up by Great Britain at the event, seeing them finish third in the medal table behind Russia and the hosts.
All of which means that British diving is in a good place heading into next month’s World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Heatly will compete in the men’s 1m individual event there and added: “After a couple of days off I will refocus and start training hard for the 1m.
“It is a great honour to be going to the World Championships.”