James Heatly helps Scotland to record Commonwealth medals haul

James Heatly competes in the Men's 1m Springboard Final at the Optus Aquatic Centre during day seven of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Picture: PA
James Heatly competes in the Men's 1m Springboard Final at the Optus Aquatic Centre during day seven of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Picture: PA
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James Heatly, a young diver from Edinburgh, rewrote history for both his family and his country on Wednesday after becoming the first Scot to secure a Commonwealth Games medal in the sport since his grandfather claimed gold six decades ago.

In a surprise triumph, the 20-year-old secured the bronze medal in the 1m springboard event, the first Team Scotland athlete to take a podium place since Sir Peter Heatly, one of Scotland’s most successful ever Commonwealth Games athletes, won in Cardiff in 1958.

The poignant success, which helped Scotland secure its best ever medal haul at an overseas Games, represents the greatest achievement yet of Heatly.

Speaking afterwards, Heatly, a bronze medallist in last year’s European Championships, was emotional when describing the significance of winning a medal on the stage where his grandfather made his name.

“It means everything, because my Grandpa was a diver and to bring another medal back and to be the first Scottish diver to do it since him is incredible,” he said.

Sir Peter, Scotland’s most successful ever diver, was a five-time Commonwealth Games medallist, and won three successive gold medals in the 1950, 1954 and 1958 Games.

He later became a successful sports administrator, becoming chairman of the Commonwealth Games Council and the Commonwealth Games Federation.

He was in the audience to watch his grandson compete during Glasgow 2014, but died the following year aged 91. One of the original inductees in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, he was also inducted posthumously into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Even though Sir Peter’s absence was keenly felt in Australia, his grandson said he felt as if he was continuing a proud legacy.

“My granddad is the reason I started diving. With his passing this is the only Commonwealth Games since 1948 that he’s not had any involvement in so to be able to bring another medal back to the family feels very special indeed.”

It comes as other Team Scotland athletes and officials were celebrating after reaching a medal tally of 32 in the Gold Coast - three more than the number racked up in Melbourne 12 years ago.

With the Games running until Sunday, Scotland look set to amass further medals. Boxers Reece McFadden and John Docherty have already guaranteed bronze at leas with their places in semi-finals.

Achieving the landmark tally fulfils the ambition of Team Scotland officials to take home at least 30 medals.

Although there is no chance of Scotland coming close to the 53 medals won at Glasgow 2014, the team’s success in Australia is in part down to strength in numbers. The 224-strong Team Scotland contingent is the largest ever at an overseas Games.

The new record tally is also the result of a stricter selection critera, with Team Scotland’s athletes forced to meet a minimum performance level of a top six finish or “top half of the field” before being selected.

Sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris said: “Once again Team Scotland has delivered on the global stage with a string of sensational performances surpassing our best ever performance at an away Games in the Gold Coast.”