By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
Sandwiched between two Scottish diving stars, Robert Heatly believes the best is to come yet in the pool for Team Scotland.
Heatly is the father of Commonwealth Games medallist James and son of diving legend Peter but professes that he was only ever an “average swimmer.”
And ahead of son James’ third Commonwealth Games, Heatly recalled how a trampoline in America provided the springboard for his son’s diving career.
"I'm the one that's gone from being known in Edinburgh as the son of Peter Heatly to James Heatly’s father," he joked. "He (James) always credits his grandfather with setting him off.
"I was in the Royal Marines, and we were living in America. My dad came out when James was seven or eight years old.
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“We had a swimming pool in the back garden and a climbing frame. James asked me to pull the trampoline between the two. He would dive off the climbing frame onto this trampoline and into this pool and my dad said, ‘hey, you've got to give this a go.’
“We didn't have the facilities in Virginia where we were, so he went along to gymnastics for about a year and then we came back to UK and lived in Edinburgh.
“Then quite late, he started diving at the age of nine or ten.”
James quickly made his mark, with top ten finishes in both the 1m and 3m springboard events at Glasgow 2014 as a 17-year-old prodigy, before a first major gold followed a year later at the European Games in Baku.
And Heatly praised the work of The National Lottery, who have invested over £40million to support Birmingham 2022 and contributed £722k worth of funding to Edinburgh Leisure, who own the Commonwealth Pool, where Heatly, and many other members of Team Scotland train, in helping to double the number of Scottish divers at each Commonwealth Games since Delhi in 2010.
“In 2012 the pool reopened here and the fantastic programme they've got going and the partnership between Edinburgh leisure and Scottish swimming and Edinburgh Diving Club has just been great," he beamed.
“We have this fantastic pool in Aberdeen now too with a thriving programme. The facilities are the critical thing.”
Heatly cited James and Grace Reid, was Team Scotland's sole representative in Delhi aged just 14, as key role models for the next generation of divers.
Reid also picked up a medal in Gold Coast four years ago, and Heatly believes the change in focus at the Commonwealth Games helps to bring the best out of Team Scotland's divers, who are in action in Birmingham from Thursday.
“They really like the Commonwealth Games, they don't get to compete for Scotland very often," he explained.
“It's just a nice opportunity to get to compete with your local guys and it's also an opportunity to compete against some of his teammates. So, some of his (James’) biggest rivals are the other British divers, so he’s really loved that. He is really, really looking forward to it.”
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