Double Commonwealth silver medallist Michael Jamieson hailed the impact of National Lottery funding on Scotland Swimming as he headed to Edinburgh to celebrate the start of the Birmingham Games.
Jamieson, who is an Olympic, World, European & Commonwealth medallist, was joined by fellow Scot Dan Wallace in Edinburgh, on the day that Duncan Scott takes to the pool in Birmingham for the first time at the Commonwealths, hoping to add to his medal haul at major Games.
It’s not just in the pool Scotland will be looking to collect silverware in Birmingham, with more Scottish athletes taking to the diving board than ever before, with numbers doubling from Games to Games since 2010.
Then aged 14, Grace Reid was the only diver representing Team Scotland in Delhi but is now part of an eight-strong 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 difficult to overstate really, The National Lottery is sort of the power behind sport in the UK. I was reading that over 1000 elite athletes are being supported through UK sport on The National Lottery-funded world class programmes and talent ID pathway.
“Many of them are obviously competing at Birmingham this week. The bottom line is that most of these guys are full time athletes directly because of the support they received from The National Lottery.
“All these incredible stories that we tune into and that we love so much, that is all brought to light and made possible by lottery funding.”
Jamieson was speaking at the Commonwealth Pool, owned by Edinburgh Leisure, a facility which he knows well having won the second of his two Commonwealth medals there in 2014.
Edinburgh Leisure has received £722k worth of National Lottery funding, and Jamieson hailed the impact that support has had on several Scottish athletes.
“It’s a world class facility,” he added.
“There’s been a real increase in the number of swimmers and divers coming through at both national and international level, that will be based at this facility. So, you can really see the pathway in action.
“The funding has been huge and we’re obviously seeing the results at the elite level coming through this week.”
The National Lottery is investing over £40million to support the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
One of the many beneficiaries of that support is the peerless Scott, who will renew his rivalry with Tom Dean in the 200m freestyle on Saturday.
An Olympic silver medallist at Rio 2016, Wallace believes that National Lottery funding has allowed the likes of Scott and Dean to flourish, which in-turn encourages the stars of future Games to take to the pool and emulate their heroes.
“We’re all aware of the superstars we have in Tom Dean, Adam Peaty and Duncan Scott,” he said.
“Without those guys and without that National Lottery funding, we wouldn’t have the next generation of swimmers coming through.
“We see them now when they’re at their prime, but that seed was planted a long time ago and it’s the health of The National Lottery that’s been 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’ time we’ll be talking about a whole other generation of athletes and that’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 only made his first splash in the sport at the age of 10, but thanks to The National Lottery-supported diving programme in Edinburgh, he was fast-tracked to the top.
He has already picked up European and World Championship medals and his father Robert said the support of National Lottery players enabled him to pursue his dream and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and diving legend Sir Peter Heatly.
“We’ve got this great family connection in diving,” Heatly senior explained.
“My dad came out of school halfway through the Second World War, went to university and dived throughout the 40s and 50s.
“It was entirely self-help then, he had to get a job and everything. James is in a different ball game. It has allowed him that buffer to chase 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 more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.