James Heatly revels in winning European bronze in front of home crowd

James Heatly's final dive was impressive as he took bronze in the 1m. Pic: Getty
James Heatly's final dive was impressive as he took bronze in the 1m. Pic: Getty
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Back in 1970, Sir Peter Heatly was given the honour of being one of the first people to dive into the water at the Royal Commonwealth Pool – and yesterday his grandson James honoured his memory with a controlled final dive to grab a bronze medal at a major event in the same building.

Heatly junior knew he needed to pull out one of his best-ever dives in the last round of the men’s 1m event in the European Championships to get on the podium.

And the 21-year-old was delighted he managed it when it really mattered, in dramatic circumstances he finished in third at the Edinburgh pool built some 48 years ago before being redeveloped.

His grandfather played a big part in getting the facility to the Capital – and if he was still alive he would have admired James’ final inward two and a half somersaults pike that gave him the medal.

Going into the sixth and final round of dives he was sitting in fifth place, but the Edinburgh Diving Club athlete has built up a reputation of being ice cool when it counts.

And this time it was no different, scoring 69.70 points for his inward two and a half somersaults pike attempt, meaning that he finished on 391.70.

That was enough to see him third behind fellow Great Britain team mate Jack Laugher (gold in 414.60) and Italian Giovanni Tocci of Italy (silver in 401.10).

After adding the medal to his bronze in the same event at the Commonwealth Games earlier in the year he said: “I just love that I managed to hold it together under this type of pressure and really deliver to make it a good day for Great Britain.

“It is amazing to do it in front of everyone. My mum and dad tend to come to come along most times, but a lot of my friends don’t usually get the chance to make the trips or watch me dive so it is great.

“There is also the Sir Peter Heatly room here so it always feels there is a bit of grandpa with me wherever I go, but here is home. Before he passed away a few years back he used to come to watch me dive here all the time so it is amazing to medal here.

“My 21st birthday was back in May, but this is a bit of a belated present and I’ll take it. I have a few weeks off now to celebrate.”

Given he trains in the pool every day and the fact – as he mentioned – that there is a room in the building named after his grandfather it is perhaps not a surprise that the feels at home in the Capital facility.

Peter, who passed away in 2015, competed for Portobello ASC and won five Commonwealth Games medals and a European Games bronze medal as well as competing at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.

However, home comforts also bring pressures and the fact that there were many family, friends and local team mates watching him from the stands could have made young Heatly nervous.

Heatly had progressed through the morning prelims in sixth place with a score of 346.75 points, but knew he had more left in the tank for the afternoon after a wobbly start.

And at the halfway stage of the final, with three dives left to go, he was in fourth place on 190.50 with the leader on 208.95.

The rest, as they say, is history as he saw the job through.

In the women’s 10m synchro event Great Britain’s teenage duo of Eden Cheng and Lois Toulson grabbed a sensational gold earlier in the day.