Grace Reid: Careering into bushes pays off as Edinburgh diver is picked for Olympic Games

In the lockdown days when all the swimming pools were shut Grace Reid took to practising somersaults in her parents’ back garden in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh diver Grace Reid has been selected for her second Olympic Games. Picture: Alex Broadway/Getty Images for British Olympic Association

The diver, who was yesterday named in the Great Britain team for the Tokyo Olympics, borrowed some equipment from her old school and went careering about the bushes.

It sounds like a risky training regime but Reid has always had an adventurous streak. She was just 14 when she competed for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, finishing sixth in the three-metre springboard.

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Such precocious talent suggested great things lay ahead and pretty soon Reid was challenging for a podium place.

Grace Reid with childhood friend James Heatly who has also been selected in the GB diving team for the Olympics. Picture: John Walton/PA Wire

In 2014, when the Games came to Glasgow, she upgraded to fifth, this time in the one-metre event. Then, three years ago in Gold Coast, she became the first Scottish female diver to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games when she struck gold off the one-metre board.

Having also won medals in the world and European championships, the only thing missing from Reid’s resumé is some Olympics hardware. It is something she would like to rectify in Tokyo but, having competed at Rio in 2016, knows it will be tough.

“I think every athlete daydreams about an Olympic medal,” said Reid, who has been selected for the 3m springboard and 3m synchro. “It is the pinnacle of excellence in most sports. It’s something I’ve obviously been chasing and doing all my hard work towards.

“But it’s very easy to get caught up thinking about the end results and the medal. Ultimately, the medal is one thing, but all the work that comes before has to be there. And that’s where my focus has to be if I want to maximise my chances of ever winning one.”

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Grace Reid and James Heatly named in British diving team for the Olympic Games

Now 25, Reid is one of the senior members of the 12-strong diving team but retains her youthful enthusiasm, as evidenced by her improvised training methods during lockdown.

“I borrowed some gymnastics equipment from my old school,” she explained. “I had some crash mats and on the one flat part of my garden, I would basically just somersault onto them. But obviously, the surroundings are a little bit different and it didn’t go perfectly every time. So there are a few instances where I did end up in the garden bushes, but it was an experience!

“Fortunately, there were no injuries and I actually think fitness-wise I’m probably in the best shape I've ever been in because of lockdown. I think it helped doing a different type of training and it gave me time to work on the weaknesses.”

Reid is joined in the diving team by James Heatly, her old school friend from George Watson’s who will be making his Olympic debut in Tokyo.

“We’ve trained alongside each other for so long. we’ve just got the most amazing friendship,” she said. “It’s super exciting to get to share this summer with him. And you know, the whole team is just so strong. And James is a huge part of that.”

The squad also includes Tom Daley, who will be competing in his fourth Olympics, and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, the 16-year-old London diver who is the daughter of Fred Sirieix, best known as the maître d’ on Channel 4's First Dates.

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