EVERYONE involved in elite sport is well aware of quite how fine the margins are between success and failure. 

There are few disciplines, however, in which the margin is quite so fine as diving. 

Each dive lasts, at a push, for a second or two, meaning there is literally only a split second to ensure perfection. 

It is, admits Gemma McArthur, who is headed to her second Commonwealth Games later this month, quite a pressure knowing even the tiniest lapse could see months or even years of training go down the drain. 

“We’re in the air for two seconds but we’ve got time between each of the dives so that’s when you can start thinking about things. You’ve really got to keep your mind focused and on track between the dives,” the 24-year-old says. 

“There is a lot of risk in diving, especially 10m diving. But if you put in the work, you have to just be confident. “You’ve done each dive thousands of times and so you’ve got to remember all of the good ones. The chance of something really going wrong is pretty minimal and so it’s about self-belief.  

During the dive, you barely do any conscious thinking – you don’t have time. When you get on the board, you go into autopilot and so it’s the preparation beforehand that’s the really important bit.” 

McArthur is in the home straight of her preparations for Birmingham 2022, with her final competitive appearance coming at the Bolzano Diving Meet in Italy, which begins today. 

In Birmingham later this month, McArthur will compete in the 10m platform, in which she finished twelfth at the 2018 Games, and the 10m synchro alongside Angus Menmuir, and this weekend’s outing will, she believes, be the ideal way to fine-tune her dives ahead of the Commonwealth Games. 

“This Grand Prix in Bolzano is the final competition before Birmingham so it’ll be good to have this last chance to sharpen up in both the individual and the synchro,” says the Southampton-based diver.  

“The bulk of the work is done - now, it’s about practicing the dives in a competitive environment.  

“If you get even a little bit nervous, it can affect your dives a lot so this final competition will be about working on controlling the nerves, perfecting the competition routine and making sure we know what I need to do to dive at my best.” 

Team Scotland’s seven-strong diving squad heading to Birmingham also includes 2018 medallists Grace Reid and James Heatly but this time around, McArthur is also headed to the Games with medal aspirations. 

She has been in good form in 2022 and is hopeful she can contribute to Team Scotland’s medal tally in Birmingham. 

“It’s amazing having such a strong diving team heading to Birmingham - it shows that Scottish diving is in a really good place and if we can do well, it’ll do so much to raise awareness of the sport,” she says.  

“It’s amazing to be part of a team that can make a real impact at international events. 

Seeing people like Grace and James win medals internationally is so inspirational. Even though we train together a lot, seeing them go out there and do it in a competition environment is quite a different thing and it makes you realise what it takes.  

“For me, it’s such different feelings comparing where I was ahead of the last Commonwealth Games to this now. “Four years ago, I was obviously a lot younger whereas now, I’ve had so much more time to develop and build my levels of experience so hopefully that’ll show in my performance at the Games. 

“Last time, I went in with the attitude of just enjoy it and see how I could do. This time though, my expectations are quite different; I’m still going in aiming to enjoy it but I’m definitely pushing to make the finals and push to make those top spots. 

“Making it onto the podium would be a dream come true but I try not to think about the end result too much – I try to think more about the process of each dive and how it’ll feel to do each dive really well and then I’ll see where that takes me.”