Community Sport: Edinburgh's Danny Mabbott is still making a splash

Edinburgh’s Danny Mabbott will not only fly the saltire as sole Scot in a 17 strong GB team at the world junior diving championships in Canada next week – he will also be a standard bearer for a visionary talent identification programme.

Edinburgh diver Danny Mabbott prepares to take the plunge
Edinburgh diver Danny Mabbott prepares to take the plunge

Now aged 18 and with a European junior championship and Commonwealth Games behind him, it was a decade ago that coaches, including current mentor, Jen Leeming, turned up at Danny’s Liberton Primary School to ascertain whether pupils had the attributes to excel in specific sports.

“We were tested in agility, strength and flexibility” recalled Danny, adding “and until it was suggested I’d never given a second thought to becoming a diver.

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“But I went along and as time went by I gave up football with Spartans Reds to concentrate on diving helped by the fact that the Royal Commonwealth Pool where I train is only 10 minutes from home.

Edinburgh diver Danny Mabbott with his mixed synchro partner Clara Kerr
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”Diving is a very technical sport but for me that is part of the appeal; there is always something you can improve upon."

Danny has never had any cause to regret his decision; well, apart from the initial shock after scaling the high board.

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“To be honest I was terrified at the start but I gradually got used to being up there” he says.

It is on the one metre springboard that Danny will attempt to demonstrate how much he has learned from several top 10 finishes in major competitions – as well as from rubbing shoulders with Tokyo Olympian and fellow Edinburgher, James Heatly.

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“James has been a tremendous help and encouragement to me” says Danny.

“Just by being around him in training I’ve picked up little things that build into the bigger picture.

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“It is also been uplifting to see how far he has been able to go - so far.”

In Birmingham earlier this year James Heatly won a Commonwealth Games bronze in the mixed synchro partnering Grace Reid, another source of encouragement to Danny before her move to London.

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Danny is no slouch himself with his diving cv showing 7th in the European Junior Championships in Bucharest earlier this year before being added to Scotland’s Commonwealth Games Aquatics Team and finishing 9th in the 1m Springboard and 10th in the Mixed Synchro (with Clara Kerr).

He also headed for Plymouth, home of diving icon Tom Daley, to represent Scotland in the inaugural Futures Cup against counterparts from each of the home nations plus Canada, USA and Ukraine.

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Can this consistency fuel a push for podium honours?

“I certainly travel to Montreal (on Tuesday) with the intention of reaching the final and hopefully making it into the top five.

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“The Commonwealth Games in particular was a wonderful experience with opportunities to learn from other athletes such as gymnasts whose skills are not too far removed from diving” says the University of Edinburgh Chemical Engineering student.

Twisting and turning is certainly common to both sports with Danny highlighting behind-the-scenes work that goes immediately prior to competition with preparatory sessions on crash mats, for example, to ensure maximum flexibility.

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There are sure to be plenty more twists and turns along the way but a good performance over the next week would surely do Danny no harm as, hopefully, he works his way towards the 2024 Paris Olympics.