Scots diving legend Sir Peter Heatly dies at 91

Peter Heatly, with his Commonwealth Games gold medal, in 2011. Picture: Dan Phillips
Peter Heatly, with his Commonwealth Games gold medal, in 2011. Picture: Dan Phillips
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SCOTLAND has lost one of its greatest athletes after the death was announced yesterday of the country’s only diving gold medallist, Sir Peter Heatly, aged 91.

The Leith-born sportsman, who died on Thursday, also played a key role in bringing the Commonwealth Games to Edinburgh in 1970 and was chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation when the event returned to the capital in 1986.

National governing body Scottish Swimming said Sir Peter had been synonymous with diving in Scotland since the 1930s.

He remains the only Scottish athlete to have won gold at three Commonwealth Games - and their predecessors - in a row.

Sir Peter attended all 17 Games since 1950, latterly as a manager, organiser and life vice- president.

He won medals for the 10m highboard and 3m springboard, and was Scottish captain in 1958. However, Scottish Swimming chair Maureen Campbell said one of Sir Peter’s proudest moments was to watch his grandson James compete with the Scotland diving team in last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

She said: “Sir Peter has been an inspiration to so many people for many, many years. The pride on his face as he watched James compete for Scotland was a joy to see.

“I am sure his family, friends and the wider aquatics community, not just in Scotland, but across the Commonwealth, will celebrate his life and the legacy he has left with the same enthusiasm Sir Peter himself brought to the sport.”

READ MORE: Obituary: Sir Peter Heatly, CBE, diver

Sir Peter won gold and silver at the 1950 Empire Games - the forerunner of the Commonwealth Games - at Auckland in New Zealand.

He also won gold and bronze at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954 at Vancouver in Canada, and gold at the 1958 Games in Cardiff.

Federation president Louise Martin spoke of her “immense sadness” at Sir Peter’s death.

She said: “The legacy of his transformative impact on the Commonwealth sporting movement will always be celebrated and cherished.”

Sir Peter, who was born in 1924, began his career at Portobello Amateur Swimming Club, becoming east of Scotland champion from 1937-39 and Scottish champion from 1946 to 1958.

After retiring from competition, he moved into sports management, and was chairman of the Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland from 1967 and 1971, and was also on the organising committee of the 1970 Edinburgh Games.

He also served as chairman of the Scottish Sports Council from 1975 to 1987, and was chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation from 1982 to 1990.

He came out of retirement to break six Scottish age-group records in the over-75 category at the Glasgow International Masters Championship at Scotstoun in Glasgow in 1999.

Sir Peter was inducted into the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Scottish Swimming Hall of Fame five years ago.

Commonwealth Games Scotland chairman Paul Bush said: “Legend can be can overused word, but not in the case of Sir Peter.

“After first excelling in the pool, he was a real driving force in bringing the Commonwealth Games to Edinburgh on two occasions and then a great supporter of Glasgow 2014.”