Jason Statham, an acclaimed British action hero, is a man of many talents.
Eight years before making his debut on the silver screen with the 1998 film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Jason Statham was a professional diver. He even represented England at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand.
Jason Statham participated in three diving events at the 1990 CWG in Auckland. He finished eighth in the 1-metre springboard, and 11th in 3-metre springboard and 10-metre platform.
Though Jason Statham’s diving career doesn’t quite match up to the huge splash he made as an actor in Hollywood, his stint as a top-level diver came in handy in several of his movie roles and helped him become the bonafide action hero he is today.
“I think what I didn’t achieve (in sports) has probably helped me focus more and take my acting career more seriously,” Statham told the BBC in 2008.
Jason Statham has tested his athletic and diving skills in films without using a body double on several occasions. The most notable of them was the 2018 movie The Meg, where his character fought a prehistoric shark.
Jason Statham was passionate about sports from a young age. He practised martial arts and had a keen interest in football, growing up with future Wales international Vinnie Jones. Like Statham, Vinnie Jones, too, later built a career for himself in cinema, which also began with a role in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels alongside Statham.
Jason Statham discovered his love for diving as a young teen when he saw a man perform a high dive in Miami. He joined a swimming club when he returned to England and trained regularly.
“I was on holiday in Florida with my mom and dad,” Statham recalled. “And there was a guy who used to do a high dive at noon every day from one of the hotels we stayed in. And I say ‘when we get home, I am going to do that.’
“I joined the club then, I was like 11 or 12 years old. Within a year, I was part of the British team and it gained momentum and I spent the next 10 years doing that.”
Statham’s hard work paid off soon. He got inducted into the British National Diving School in 1985 and gradually went on to represent Great Britain and England in international competitions.
Statham participated in the Olympic trials for the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul and the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 but could not make the cut for the main event.
Despite acting in several hits later in his career, including the Fast & Furious franchise, The Expendables, Transformers and Spy, Jason Statham, in 2016, revealed that not being able to realise his Olympic dream as a diver remains one of his few regrets.
“It’s a bit of a sore point that I never got to the Olympics,” Jason Statham said during one of his movie premieres after Jack Laugher and Chris Mears became the first Brits to win an Olympic gold medal in diving at Rio 2016.
“They deserve it. The divers now are just terrific,” Statham added. “I started too late. It probably wasn’t my thing. I should have done a different sport.”
Jason Statham’s acting career
While Jason Statham’s performances as a diver at the Commonwealth Games did not catch much attention, he became a face for top fashion brands like French Connection and Levi’s, among others, soon after the Games were over.
He eventually transitioned into acting and quickly became one of the most sought-after action stars in Hollywood.
Statham landed his first role as an actor in the 1998 crime-comedy flick Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. His performance in Snatch two years later established Statham as a serious talent in the industry.