James Heatly used grandfather’s achievements to win historic bronze medal

James Heatly celebrates on the podium
James Heatly celebrates on the podium
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James Heatly revealed his grandfather’s own sporting achievements spurred him on as he dived to a Commonwealth Games bronze medal for Team Scotland on the Gold Coast.

Before the men’s 1m event at the Optus Aquatic Centre, the only Scottish medallist previously in the sport in Games history had been his grandfather Peter Heatly. In 1950 Peter, who went on to be awarded a knighthood and passed away in 2015, won gold in the 10m and silver in the 3m events. Then in 1954 he took home bronze in the 10m and gold in the 3m and in 1958 he picked up gold in the 10m.

James Heatly with his grandfather,  Sir Peter Heatly

James Heatly with his grandfather, Sir Peter Heatly

In 2014 Peter was there to watch James, then 17, compete at Glasgow 2014, and after securing his first ever Games medal yesterday – a bronze in the 1m springboard – the Edinburgh Diving Club member admitted to being emotional having continued the Heatly family legacy.

“My grandpa got to see my dive in Glasgow which was amazing. He always said he was holding on for Glasgow. I was thinking about him before the final of this event,” Heatly, who is now 20, said.

“It means the world to me to have done what I’ve just done. I can’t even put it into words, it means so much to me.

“There are so many emotions swirling round my head, I’m a bit overwhelmed right now.

“It was such a strong field, so I wasn’t expecting too much. I wanted to get a personal best, so to come away with a bronze medal is fantastic.

“The fourth dive was the key one. That’s the best I’ve ever done it in competition and I’ve been really struggling with it in training. To find it in a Commonwealth Games final is just fantastic.

“My three highest tariffs were on the last three dives. The last two are the ones I’m most comfortable with, then I like to leave the hard one – my fourth one today – as far to the end as possible so I don’t freak out too early.

“This will hopefully give the rest of the Scottish divers confidence as well. There are only four of us, but we’re four very strong divers and real big contenders, so it will be exciting to see what happens in the next few days.”

Heatly also paid tribute to his family who were at the venue watching him in action, including his mum and dad, two brothers, uncle, cousin and grandma.

“The Heatly army has come out here to support me,” he joked. “They support me a lot and I am very proud to have done it for them.

“I also knew that the Scottish swimming team were coming to watch me, but I didn’t actually see them arrive so when I stood on the board and just heard the crowd erupt, that was pretty amazing.

“They’re finished competing now so they didn’t have to come but they did. That means the world to me.”

In the final Heatly wobbled a bit on his third of six dives, but recovered to post 399.25 points to finish third behind England’s Jack Laugher (438.00) and James Connor (412.45).

Lucas Thomson, the S5 pupil from Balerno High School, finished 12th out of 12 in the final, but the fact he made it to that stage at the age of 16 shows that he has a very bright future ahead of him. He posted a score of 288.05 and on the experience said: “It is just great for me to be out at a meet like this, mixing with the best divers in the world.

“The main event I am here for is the 10m synchro with James which is on Friday, so it was great to get out into the arena, hear the crowd and make a final in the 1m.”

Heatly is set to dive today in the men’s 3m.

Edinburgh’s Grace Reid is entered in the women’s 1m springboard (Friday) and the 3m springboard (Saturday).