Baldock’s Jim McNally and partner win gold at world diving championships

Jim McNally and Barbara Heathfield performing a forward dive half-twist from the 3m springboard in B

Jim McNally and Barbara Heathfield performing a forward dive half-twist from the 3m springboard in Budapest, on their way to winning gold. Picture: Timothy Massinet - Credit: Archant

You may know Baldock’s Jim McNally as a district councillor – but you probably don’t know that he and his partner Barbara Heathfield are now world champion divers.

Jim McNally back home in Baldock, where he represents Baldock Town ward on North Herts District Coun

Jim McNally back home in Baldock, where he represents Baldock Town ward on North Herts District Council. - Credit: Archant

Jim and Barbara have this month picked up a joint total of eight medals at the FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest – including gold in a mixed synchronised diving event.

Jim, who represents the Baldock Town ward on North Hertfordshire District Council, also picked up two silver medals and a bronze while competing against rivals from as far off as Lithuania, Canada and the United States – with Barbara doing the same.

Jim is president of the Great Britain Diving Federation – and speaking to the Comet on his return home, the 65-year-old said he doesn’t intend to leave the sport any time soon.

He said: “This is something Barbara and I do all the time, and this time we managed to win one of the competitions.


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“It’s age groups, five-year intervals from 25 upwards – so I’m not going up against Tom Daley or someone like that!”

Jim and Barbara train at Hatfield’s Beaumont Diving Academy and in Luton due to the lack of facilities in North Herts, and entered six events each at the championships in Hungary.

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Diving together as a team they won gold in the 3m synchronised mixed diving competition, and bronze in the synchronised platform mixed diving.

Jim won two silver medals for men’s synchronised diving, alongside Will Moloney from Highgate Diving Club in London – while Barbara and Southend Diving’s Jenni Cluskey did the same in the equivalent women’s events.

Jim and Barbara also came in the top five for their respective age groups in the 1m and 3m springboard events.

Jim said: “We’ve done this for many years – I’ve been diving for well in excess of 50 years now. It’s just what I’ve always done.

“Last year we dived in the European Masters as well, and won a couple of events there too.

“I have loads of dives that I do – my favourite, I suppose, is the forward one-and-a-half somersault with twist.

“That’s the most difficult dive that I do, but it’s actually quite simple – you have people doing treble twists or two-and-a-half somersaults! So it’s relatively simple by comparison, but it’s still hard enough.

“All in all it was a productive week. We’re really pleased.”

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