Commonwealth Games hero Peter Heatly dies at 91

THE family of legendary diver Sir Peter Heatly have paid tribute to his “determination and commitment,” after he died earlier this week at the age of 91.
Sir Peter Heatly  has died at 91. Picture: Neil HannaSir Peter Heatly  has died at 91. Picture: Neil Hanna
Sir Peter Heatly has died at 91. Picture: Neil Hanna

The Leith-born sportsman won three golds, a silver and a bronze, at the Commonwealth Games, before later becoming chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

His family remembered him last night as a sportsman who won the hearts of a nation – but most of all, as a loving dad and husband.

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Son Robert Heatly, 57, said his dad’s “determination to get things done” had rubbed off on all four of his children.

Sir Peter HeatlySir Peter Heatly
Sir Peter Heatly

“He will be remembered by us first and foremost as a dad rather than a public figure,” Robert said. “We all get quite a lot of our character from him.

“From a family perspective we will all certainly miss him. At 91, he seems to have been around for a long time. He took life seriously, but he had a good sense of humour.”

He also praised his father’s sportsmanship and talent, as well as his dedication to the Commonwealth Games.

“What’s unique about him is the fact he attended 17 consecutive Commonwealth Games in an official capacity from 1950 to 2014,” he said.

Peter Heatly training at Portobello Indoor BathsPeter Heatly training at Portobello Indoor Baths
Peter Heatly training at Portobello Indoor Baths

“He was interested in them all, but the last Games in Glasgow were particularly special as Jamie, my son, was diving for Scotland. I think he was delighted and very proud. That was a very special moment, if you like, at the end.”

Sir Peter won his first gold and silver at the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland.

He notched up more medals at the 1954 and 1958 Games – the latter while he was captain.

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The respected diver posthumously holds the title of Scotland’s only athlete to have won a gold at three consecutive Commonwealth Games. He also remains the only Scot to have scooped a medal for diving.

After retiring, Sir Peter took on a number of top roles in sports management, including as chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation – a position he held when the Games returned to Edinburgh in 1986.

Sir Peter went to Leith Academy before studying engineering at Edinburgh University, beginning his diving career at Portobello Amateur Swimming Club.

He was awarded a CBE in 1971 and later knighted, before being inducted into the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Scottish Swimming Hall of Fame five years ago.

National governing body Scottish Swimming said Sir Peter had been synonymous with diving in Scotland since the 1930s, with chair Maureen Campbell insisting he had been “an inspiration to so many people for many, many years”.

She said: “The pride on his face as he watched James compete for Scotland was a joy to see and I am sure that his family, friends, and the wider aquatics community, not just in Scotland, but across the Commonwealth will celebrate his life and the legacy he has left with the same enthusiasm that Sir Peter brought to the sport.”

Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin, said she felt “immense sadness,” adding “The legacy of his transformative impact on sport will always be celebrated and cherished.”

Watching his grandson, Jamie, follow in his footsteps at 18, was one of his most cherished memories.