James Heatly comes of age as he secures brilliant bronze

Great Britain's James Heatly celebrates with his bronze medal in the men's 1m springboard final. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA
Great Britain's James Heatly celebrates with his bronze medal in the men's 1m springboard final. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA
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Scottish diver James Heatly is looking forward to starting his 21st birthday celebrations in earnest after he put in a cracking performance to win a bronze medal in the men’s 1m event in the European Championships at the Royal Commonwealth Pool yesterday.

Given he trains at the Edinburgh facility every day and the fact that there is a room in the building named after his grandfather, Sir Peter Heatly, for his own diving exploits it is perhaps not a surprise that he feels at home there.

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.

Home comforts also bring pressures and the fact there were many family, friends and Edinburgh Diving Club team-mates watching James from the stands could have made him 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 in the afternoon, with three dives left to go, he was in fourth place on 190.50 with the leader on 208.95.

He kept his cool and, after nailing a great last dive for a score of 69.70, it meant that he finished on 391.70. That was enough to take third place behind Great Britain team-mate Jack Laugher (gold in 414.60) and Italian Giovanni Tocci (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: “My 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.

“It is amazing to do it in front of everyone. My mum and dad tend 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 I always feel 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.

“The Europeans are a higher standard than the Commonwealths given the divers who were here. I was maybe more emotional at the Commonwealths in Australia in April because there was so much history being the first diving medallist for Scotland since my grandpa. It has been a good year all in all.

“We could have easily medalled on Monday in the team event [he and Robyn Birch finished fourth] and got on the podium, but there were a few mistakes here and there and you can’t win them all. This is the more important event for me and 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.”

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.