Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Divers ready to take centre stage

With the swimming competition drawing to a close our attention moves to another of the pools at the Optus Aquatics Centre and the start of the diving competition.

Back in Glasgow four years ago Grace Reid and James Heatly made up the divers on Team Scotland. Fast forward to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games this number has doubled as joining Reid and Heatly are Gemma MacArthur and Lucas Thomson.

Since her Team Scotland debut back in Delhi in 2010, where she was the youngest on the team at 14 years old, Grace Reid has gone from strength to strength, making history at the Rio 2016 Olympics by delivering the best British female diving performance in the 3m individual springboard for 56 years with a superb eighth in the final. A year later, she was fourth in the same event at the World Championships in Budapest, where she also won silver in the mixed synchro event.

Reid is down to compete in the 1m and 3m springboard events and said ahead of the diving starting,

“The swimmers have been awesome, they’ve totally spurred us and we’re now at the point we’re thinking we just need to get our competition going.

“I’m totally aware that these are my third Games and more is expected of me. As much as I love training in Edinburgh I needed a change. Change is good for me, I’m on a new page, I’ve a new dynamic and I really thrive on that.”

The name Heatly is synonymous with Diving, not only in Scotland, but across the Commonwealth. James, grandson of the late, great Sir Peter Heatly, returns to Team Scotland  following a successful 2017 season, where he was selected to the GBR team for the World Championships. On the Gold Coast he will compete in the 1m and 3m springboard, as well as the 10m synchronised platform, where he will be joined by Lucas Thomson. The pair won silver in the event at last year’s FINA Diving Grand Prix at this venue.

“I’m so excited for the diving competition to start; I just want to get out there now. Diving is such an exciting sport, anything can happen.

Lucas Thomson’s story is nothing short of miraculous as only four years ago he was still dabbling in gymnastics. Fast forward four years and not only has he taken up diving the 16 year old is on the brink of representing Scotland in it, competing in the 1m springboard and 10m platform. He said,

“I’m incredibly excited and incredibly inspired. I’ve been watching and cheering on the swimmers and they’ve been amazing. My dives have really come together and I feel ready.”

Gemma MacArthur is the other rookie on the team. Back in December she made the move to Edinburgh from Southampton to train full time with Heatly and Thomson under the guidance of coach Jen Leeming. MacArthur will compete in the 10m platform an event in which she was a finalist at last year’s FINA Grand Prix in Bolzano. She said,

“Competing at the Commonwealth Games for Scotland has been my biggest goal for a long, long time and I can’t wait to get started. I’ve been watching how calm the swimmers are ahead of their events and I really want to draw on that, I’ve already learned so much.”

Speaking ahead of the diving competition getting underway, Scotland’s coach, Jen Leeming said,

“We’re looking forward to getting started now. We’ve done our preparation and I think everyone is getting that itchy feeling, willing the competition to get under way.

“As a group they are looking forward to showing what they can do. Last year they all had a good season, James and Grace at World level where they posted good places and they come into this meet with confidence. They just want to go for it.

“For Gemma and Lucas they’ve put a lot of work into their outdoor pool preparation. We were really lucky to train out here in November and earlier in the season in Bolzano back in July.  All the work is in the bag to make them ready for this moment.”

Speaking about how the changing weather conditions may impact the competition, Leeming continued,

“The weather plays a massive part in outdoor diving, and it creates a lot of excitement and interest.  Anything could happen but I’m just looking forward to seeing what our guys can do. They are ready.”

The diving competition starts on Wednesday 11 April and runs until Saturday 14 April and is being held at the Optus Aquatics Centre.

Prelims start at 10:00 (01:00 GMT), while finals begin at 19:00 (10:00 GMT)

The diving schedule can be found HERE