Wales’ Aidan is on Top of the World

Aidan Heslop will spend this weekend celebrating a rare status – a Welsh athlete who has become a world champion.

The Team Wales Commonwealth Games star took his first high diving world championship title by launching himself in near perfection fashion from a 27-metre platform at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha.

It could prove the springboard towards one day earning an Olympic gold medal.

Heslop’s final dive was a thing of beauty – a forward launch, four somersaults and three-and-a-half twisted pike, rated the toughest in the business.

Straight as a pin on a feet-first entry into a six-metre deep tub, the 21-year-old nailed the dive with barely a splash, triggering a roar from a healthy crowd in temporary terraces and a huge score of 151.90.

Heslop – who was born in Chelmsford but qualified to represent Wales at the Commonwealth Games through a Welsh mother – had a nervous wait as the final divers sought to dislodge him from the gold medal position.

In the end, though, he finished just clear of France’s runner-up Gary Hunt and Romanian, Catalin-Petru Preda, who took the bronze.

“As soon as I put that last one down, I thought I had a good chance, but you can’t leave these things to chance,” said Heslop.

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking, standing and watching. We’ve all been in that situation before.”

All high divers have a background in the regulation diving seen at the Olympics, where the highest platform is 10 metres.

Heslop, who dived for Wales at the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games, is confident he will be high diving for Britain at the Olympics eventually.

“I don’t hope high diving will be there. It’s going to be there. I’ll be there, I reckon at Brisbane,” he said of the 2032 Games.

“When you look at the progression of this sport, in the last five years it’s just been phenomenal.”

Global governing body World Aquatics (WA) added high diving to its World Championships programme in 2013 and is lobbying the IOC to add it to the Olympics.