WHEN James Heatly began his Commonwealth Games career back in 2014, all the talk was about his family history in his sport. 

Heatly is the grandson of Scotland’s most successful diver ever, Peter Heatly, who won five Commonwealth Games medals, three of which were gold, in the 1950s. 

As a 17-year-old making his Games debut back in 2014, Heatly was known almost exclusively as Peter Heatly’s grandson. 

Now, however, his achievements over the past few years have ensured the attention is centred almost entirely on what he can do in the pool. 

Since winning bronze in Gold Coast in 2018, Heatly has collected a European bronze, World Cup silver, as well as an Olympic Games appearance and, earlier this month, two bronze medals at the World Championships, suggesting he is peaking at the perfect time for Birmingham 2022. 

This week, however, his hectic schedule ensures he will barely have time to catch his breath. 

He will compete in four events over the next five days, and has medal opportunities in all four of them. 

He will begin his campaign today, in the 1m springboard before taking on the 3m springboard, mixed synchro alongside Grace Reid and the 3m synchro alongside Ross Beattie. 

It will, he is well aware, be a busy few days and it will be quite a task retaining his focus for the duration but it is a challenge he is embracing. 

“It’s going to be tough,” the 25-year-old from Edinburgh says. 

 “If one event goes well, I’m going to have to work hard to reset for the next one.  

“It’ll be back-to-back so this is definitely going to test my mental endurance. 

“It’s daunting having such a busy schedule but more than anything, it’s exciting and I’m ready for it.” 

It is in the 1m springboard, and the mixed synchro alongside his fellow Olympian, Reid, in which Heatly believes his best chance of gold comes. 

One of his recent World Championship bronze medals came in the mixed synchro with Reid – his other was in the team event – which suggests that despite having not done the event together since 2015, they have quickly hit top gear.  

And so while he is conscious of the pressure upon his shoulders to be on the podium over the coming days, he is also aware that the nature of diving means nothing can be taken for granted. 

“The Worlds were great preparation and it was great to do so well just a few weeks out from the Games,” he says of his results in Budapest. 

“I do feel like that increases the pressure on me but the past few weeks, I’ve felt myself relaxing into it all and blocking out the expectation.  

“These Games have been coming for a long time and I feel like I’ve been putting pressure on myself but now it’s here, I can feel myself beginning to relax and enjoy it. 

“Experience is a massive thing and I’ve had quite a lot of major events now to get used to this. 

“It’s not unrealistic to aim for four medals but diving is one of those sports where the sh*t can hit the fan and sometimes, things don’t go to plan at all. But if it works out, there’s some great opportunities here for me.” 

Heatly’s family connections may not be talked about quite so emphatically these days but Birmingham 2022 has, funnily enough, similarly strong family ties for him. 

Birmingham is his mum’s home city and so despite being south of the border, he is feeling very much at home, which is perhaps just as well bearing the frantic nature of a Commonwealth Games . 

“All three Games have been quite different for me – Glasgow was all about going to my first Games and gaining experience and it was very much about being a Heatly,” he says.  

“My grandpa was still around then and those Commonwealth Games were actually one of the last times he watched me compete before he passed away so that was really special. 

“Gold Coast was very exciting but it was the first Games my grandpa hadn’t attended so there was still that story around the family name. 

“And this time, in a diving sense, it’s quite strange feeling like I’m a contender in all my events.  

“In 2018, it was only the 1m where I snuck my bronze that I was really in the mix whereas this time, I’ve got four events and four solid chances for medals which is quite a contrast to previously. 

“My mum is from Birmingham so funnily enough, the family connection is still here this time too. Her side isn’t the diving side of the family so she’s delighted that it’s her family’s turn. 

“This is very much a home Games for me too though, which is really nice and will hopefully help settle the nerves a bit.”