Commonwealth medalist Jamieson hails National Lottery funding
Two-time Commonwealth silver medalist Michael Jamieson has hailed the impact of National Lottery funding on Scottish swimming as he heads to Edinburgh to celebrate the start of the Birmingham Games.
Jamieson, who is an Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth medalist, was joined by fellow Scot Dan Wallace in Edinburgh on the day Duncan Scott heads to the Birmingham Pool for the Commonwealths for the first time, hoping to add to his medal at the major Games.
It’s not just in the pool that Scotland will be looking to raise silverware in Birmingham, with more Scottish athletes than ever before, with numbers doubling from game to game since 2010.
Then 14-year-old Grace Reid was the only diver representing Team Scotland in Delhi, but is now part of an eight-person team looking to make a splash in Birmingham.
Thanks to National Lottery players, Team Scotland athletes can train full time and produce performances at the Games to make the nation proud.
Jamieson explained: “It’s hard to really overstate, the National Lottery is sort of the power behind sport in the UK. I was reading that over 1000 elite athletes are supported by British sport through world-class programs funded by the National Lottery and a talent identification pathway.
“A lot of them are obviously competing in Birmingham this week. The bottom line is that most of these guys are full-time athletes directly because of the support they’ve had from the National Lottery.
“All of these amazing stories that we listen to and love so much, all of which are brought to light and made possible through lottery funding.”
Jamieson was speaking at the Commonwealth Pool, owned by Edinburgh Leisure, an establishment he knows well having won the second of his two Commonwealth medals there in 2014.
Edinburgh Leisure has received National Lottery funding worth £722,000, and Jamieson hailed the impact the support has had on several Scottish athletes.
“It’s a world-class facility,” he added. “There has been a real increase in the number of national and international swimmers and divers who will be based at this facility. So you can really see the track in action.
“The funding has been huge and obviously we’re seeing the results at the elite level coming in this week.”
The National Lottery is investing over £40m to support the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
One of the many beneficiaries of this support is the incomparable Scott, who will renew his rivalry with Tom Dean in the 200m freestyle on Saturday.
Olympic silver medalist at Rio 2016, Wallace believes National Lottery funding allowed Scott and Dean to flourish, which in turn encourages stars of future Games to get in the pool and emulate their hero.
“We all know the superstars we have in Tom Dean, Adam Peaty and Duncan Scott,” he said. “Without these guys and without this funding from the National Lottery, we wouldn’t have the next generation of swimmers.
“We see them now when they are at their peak, but that seed was planted a long time ago and it was the health of the National Lottery that was able to produce these athletes that we see now.
“Hopefully that support continues, so we might be talking about Duncan Scott now, but in 10 or 20 years we’ll be talking about a whole different generation of athletes and it’s all thanks to the National Lottery.”
The Commonwealth Pool, which was revamped in 2012, has played a huge role in preparing Team Scotland athletes for these Games.
Diver James Heatly didn’t take his first steps into the sport until he was 10, but thanks to the National Lottery-supported diving program in Edinburgh, he was rocketed to the top.
He has already won medals at European and World Championships and his father Robert says the support of National Lottery players has enabled him to pursue his dream and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and diving legend Sir Peter Heatly.
“We have this great family connection in the diving business,” explained Heatly senior.
“My dad got out of school in the middle of WWII, went to college, and dove into the 1940s and 50s.
“It was all about self-help then, he had to get a job and everything. James is in a different ball game. It allowed him that buffer to pursue his dreams.
“I think he’s making the most of it. It’s been invaluable to him and allowed him to focus on his sport for as long as he can.
National Lottery players raise over £30million a week for good causes, including vital funding for sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make incredible reality on: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.