Nerves can do funny things to a person and Olympic debutant James Heatly had to control his in the 3m springboard at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. 

The 24-year-old diver has had to bide his time in Japan, waiting for his only event, and made a nervous start to the preliminary competition. 

Sat 16th of 29 competitors after three of his six dives, Heatly was living on the edge with just 18 making it through to Tuesday’s semi-final. 

The pressure was on, but the Commonwealth bronze medallist calmed himself down and turned it around to secure his place with the fourth best score. 

He said: “I had to have a bit of a word with myself, I was a bit shaky going into it. I knew after watching all the other events that everyone had been a bit shaky.  

“We’re all a bit rusty and out of practice for competition so I had to remind myself of that. It’s not over ‘til it’s over, I eased into it.” 

To say that Heatly eased into it is an understatement. 

His last three dives were excellent, culminating in a spectacular forward 4 ½ somersaults which scored 96.9, a score only bettered by China’s Xie Siyi, who has already won gold in the 3m synchro here. 

The score came as a surprise to Heatly, who has form at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, having won a silver at the World Cup event here in May. 

He added: “I honestly didn’t see that coming. These prelims are long so you get really tired towards the end so I’m glad to have picked that up and pull through. 

“Just to be here and be competing is amazing and it’s my first Olympics so to make it through to the semi, I can’t believe it.”

Heatly will take part in the semi-final alongside teammate and 2016 silver medallist Jack Laugher on Tuesday morning, where the top 12 will progress to the afternoon's final.

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