Heslop fearless heading into second Commonwealth Games

·3-min read
Aidan Heslop is competing at his second Commonwealth Games aged 20 (Reuters)
Aidan Heslop is competing at his second Commonwealth Games aged 20.

DAREDEVIL diver Aidan Heslop has never known fear, only caution.

The 20-year-old’s day job is to throw himself off 27-metre cliffs as one of the star turns on the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.

The 10m platform that he will negotiate at the Commonwealth Games, representing Team Wales, is often described as the scariest task in sport but it’s small fry to Heslop.

“I wouldn’t say I ever get scared,” he said, “but I’m always cautious.

“If you go out there with no caution you’ll try anything and there are consequences to getting it wrong. You have to know what you’re doing.

“A little bit of fear is good and we take calculated risks. We do everything we possible can when we’re on 27 to have the best chance of being safe.”

A hyper-active child, Heslop would bounce off beds and jump from sofa to sofa in his childhood home in Chelmsford, Essex.

It’s fair to say he was never destined for a desk job - in his teenage years, he stacked shelves at a Morrisons supermarket, with special responsibility for potatoes.

“Diving is the best place to put me, because it’s active and it’s creative,” he said.

“If you put me in running, I’d just get bored. There’s more to diving and that’s what attracted me - and then a small bit of craziness. I’m an adrenaline junkie in every way.”

Heslop’s list of hobbies are the stuff of some parent’s nightmares. He’s been a skydiver, rock climber, bungee jumper, skateboarding and BMXer in his time.

Heslop’s mum and dad have more than come to terms with their son’s madcap lifestyle.

“They’re extremely proud of it,” he said. “I started high diving from 13 metres when I was 12 years old and mum couldn’t watch.

“It’s your child, all you want to see is them be safe and diving isn’t the safest thing in the world. They took the precautions and spoke to the right people to realise it was safe.

“They know now that they can trust me and that I know my limits and I won’t do anything I’m not capable of. They let me get on with it.”

This summer, Team Wales, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 200 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Heslop is looking for medal success.

And with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Heslop hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

Aged 16, Heslop became the youngest diver to ever compete on the Cliff Diving World Series.

A year earlier he’d made his Commonwealth Games debut for Team Wales on the Gold Coast – his family on his mother’s side are all Welsh.

“2018 was a big learning experience,” he said. “I got very ill when I was out there and had a really bad ear infection, I was struggling to eat and sleep.

“It was hard to enjoy the competition but going out to Australia itself was sick.”

In Birmingham he will compete in the 10m platform individual competition and in the mixed synchro event alongside Ruby Thorne.

“Having done the Games previously, it takes the pressure off a little bit,” he said. “I know what I’m doing when I get there and it won’t be a surprise for me.

“I’m more confident now and representing Wales means an awful lot, especially to my mum. I’m very proud of it."

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