James Heatly is making the Commonwealth Games a family affair

·4 min read
Diving - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Men’s 1m Springboard Medal Ceremony - Optus Aquatic Centre - Gold Coast, Australia - April 11, 2018. Bronze medalist James Heatly of Scotland. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha (Athit Perawongmetha / reuters)

For diver James Heatly, the Commonwealth Games are a family event, and he plans to put smiles on faces of his loved ones in Birmingham.

On the Gold Coast, the Edinburgh athlete won Team Scotland's first ever diving medal since his grandpa Peter claimed gold 60 years prior.

The 25-year-old won bronze in the men's 1m Springboard event and will be back in front of family and friends for Birmingham 2022.

He said: "I'm really excited for it to be my third Games for many reasons.

"I got into diving because of my grandpa, and he did three Commonwealth Games, so I've matched him at doing three.

"I obviously got to do Glasgow and the diving was in Edinburgh, so it really was at home and then Gold Coast was amazing, and I've actually got family out there so that was incredible.

"And then my mum's half of the family are all from Birmingham so it's like the Commonwealth Games have given me a tour of my family.

"So, it really does feel like another home Games for me and it's my mum side, who are not the diving side of the family so it's nice to have them there and bring them more into it.

"It's crazy that when I went to Glasgow really naïve, I was a little baby only 17 and I think I've picked up so much experience along the ways and that bronze on the Gold Coast was so special.

"It just fell on such a special time; it was exactly 60 years since my grandpa got his last medal and it was the first time my grandpa wasn’t there."

Sir Peter Heatly was able to watch his grandson compete at a Scottish home Games in 2014 before he passed away and Heatly is forever grateful to have had that experience.

This summer, Team Scotland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise of over 250 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Heatly is looking for medal success.

The Edinburgh diver will compete in four events in Birmingham 2022, joining forces with school mate and teammate Grace Reid in the mixed 3m synchro.

Heatly and Reid have trained together since 2006 and recently overcame the challenges of mixed synchro to win bronze at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest.

With different weights, heights, and hurdle steps, Heatly has had to adapt his approach to the end of the springboard to match Reid but has faith in their partnership and is excited to compete together once again.

Heatly is one of over than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science, and medical support.

He said: "My two bronze medals at worlds were amazing. I didn't qualify for my individual events in the 1m and 3m, so I was a bit anxious about not doing them and wasn't quite sure and felt like a bit of a fraud.

"But the two medals I got competing, I really loved it.

"It was a real confidence boost for Grace and because we didn't actually do the best that we can do but we still managed to sneak out way to a bronze."

"Mixed synchro got brought into diving in 2015 and we did a few events back then and then we stopped it for a while.

"So, bringing that back it's really quite nostalgic, we just have a lot of fun doing it together and we have a big brother sister relationship.

"This is also the first time the mixed synchro's been in the Commonwealth Games ever, so it feels really special for the two of us to do it."

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