At just 14 years of age, Grace Reid was Scotland’s youngest ever team member when she qualified for the Diving 3m springboard event at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.
Not quite able to believe the magnitude of her achievement, she captured the hearts of the nation when she explained that her love of diving was because “it is the closest thing to flying”. At the Games she went on to acquit herself well finishing 6th in the final, setting a new personal best in the process. It was also the first time that a British junior diver had scored over 300 points.
Recalling her memories of competing in Delhi Grace said: “When we were walking into the closing ceremony and all I could see was a sea of blue and white, I finally understood how big the Games were and the enormity of being part of the Team Scotland.”
Still only 16, Grace who lives in Edinburgh and goes to George Watson’s College where Sir Chris Hoy embarked on his sporting journey, is making steady progress through the British diving ranks. She has already posted the qualification score required to compete in Glasgow 2014, although sadly it was prior to the selection period opening. This was at the British Diving Championships held in Plymouth in February this year, where she won her first British senior title on the 3m springboard and bronze in the 1m event, despite still technically being a junior.
The two years following Delhi were made even more hectic than normal for Grace, with the closure of the Royal Commonwealth Pool (RCP) for refurbishment ahead of the Commonwealth Games, forcing her to travel to Leeds most weekends to access suitable diving facilities.
“Travelling to Leeds was definitely tricky and did test my dedication at times. Some weekends I just wanted to be a teenager, but I knew I needed to keep training if I wanted to get better. Also school is hard and it’s sometimes a nightmare to try and balance everything, but as most athletes think it’s so worth it and they work to distract you from the other when one gets hard.”
“My coach helps me work out a slightly moderated training schedule if I’m finding school too much and my teachers really understand. It is hard to find time to do normal things, but that just goes with the territory and I have the best group of friends in the world, who are always there for me.”
“I am really excited to be back training in Edinburgh again, and to have my coach Jenny (Leeming) back. It is also good to have a training partner as James Heatly also trains at the RCP.”
Another challenge she has had to cope with is the fact that she has grown 10cm since her Games debut in 2010 which has had a major impact on her technique. Explaining she said: “Growing taller has changed things a lot and everyone keeps saying ‘you’re not little Grace anymore’. But it’s quite exciting because it means I’m getting more like the experienced girls I’m up against. Even a few centimetres can make the biggest difference, you find the simplest things so difficult just because your legs have gotten a tiny bit longer which is so frustrating but it’s a game of patience.”
“I had to master growing 10cm which proved extremely challenging, I had to re-learn dives and alter my hurdle step (the equivalent of a golf swing to a diver) as my stride was now longer. I have two superb strength and conditioning coaches who motivate me and get me through tough sessions three times a week. This is helping me to gain strength and develop increased muscle definition, which is vital to condition your body once you have grown, but being stronger now has only made my diving that much better.”
Having just missed out on selection for London 2012 and having to watch the action from the stands it would mean the world to Grace to be selected for Glasgow 2014.
“To compete at my home pool in Edinburgh in the Commonwealth Games would be another major milestone in my diving career I’m pretty sure, because that where I learnt to dive and where I have grown up pretty much. I’ve had some hard and good times there with training, but to dive in front of a home crowd would be a dream come true.”
Photo Credit: Alistair Devine