Anyone who sees Jason Statham jumping into cars, fighting and shooting in different action movies, was surprised to see a video that went viral of the actor’s sporting past in 2021 and 2016, years of the last Olympics. And he was doing something unimaginable for many: Jason competed in the Commonwealth games – Multi-sport competition where countries colonized by the United Kingdom compete with each other – in diving. And even more surprising is knowing that this Briton’s dream before becoming a movie star was to compete in the Olympics.
“I used to compete on a ten meter platform and three meter springboard, which isn’t necessarily very high, but we used to do a certain amount of gymnastic tricks there. We did three and a half (mortals) backwards. You know, like Greg Louganis,” Staham said in a 2003 interview.
A very active child, Statham practiced kung fu, kickboxing, karate, played football, but it was in diving that he found himself in the sport, at the age of 13. Eight years later, Jason was fighting for one of the two spots Great Britain had on the 3 and 10 meter springboards at the Seoul Games. But he ended up being overcome by Bob Morgan – who took the places in both events – Jeffrey Arbon (10m) and Graham Norris (3m), ending the first – which ended up being the last – young Jason’s chance to be in an Olympics . We can’t find out where Jason was in this qualifiers, but his ranking in the 90 Commonwealth games shows that he had a good level among his country’s rivals.
Yes, Statham has had his work cut out a bit as Great Britain competes split in Commonwealth Games. And in 1990, which were played in Auckland, New Zealand, Jason was part of the England team, competing on the one and three meter springboards, and the ten meter platform. But he stayed out of medal contention. Including, the video that ended up going viral years later after the world discovered his sporting past, was one of his poorly executed jumps, where a young Jason with a lot of hair and defined muscles, misses a triple somersault, ending with a low score of 13.86 .
In Auckland, her best finish was an eighth place on the one meter springboard, with 487.26 points. He placed tenth on the three meter springboard and eleventh on the ten meter springboard – where he had that bad jump. At least, he didn’t come in last place in any of the three races, which shows that he wasn’t as bad as the video shows.
Statham still tried to qualify for the Barcelona Games in 1992, but ended up withdrawing due to lack of support, as he said in the same 2003 interview with IGN: “Diving was obviously a hobby of mine and, being an amateur sport, couldn’t make money from it. I tried to support myself by selling perfume, jewelry and other supposedly expensive merchandise, but I gave up.”
Thanks to his well-defined body shaped by hours of training in diving, Jason became a model for brands such as Tommy Hilfinger and in 1998, he was found by director Guy Ritchie, who gave him a role in the film “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Pipes”, where he also played former football player and his childhood friend Jason Vinnie Jones. He also acted in ‘Snatch – pigs and diamonds’, before exploding as an action star in the films ‘Explosive’, ‘Adrenaline’, ‘The Expendables’ and ‘The Fast and the Furious’, as the tough guy who solves everything in a crash ( and on the bullet).
In 2017, he returned to Auckland, twenty-seven years after his participation in the Commonwealth Games, to record the film ‘Megatubarão’ – which will have a sequel scheduled for release in 2023. And he spoke a little more about how his career in jumping ornaments would help him on the film shoot: “Many of the things I learned in my early years as a diver is how to feel confident in the water or underwater. And since we are facing a mega shark in the film, it is important to feel good underwater.”
Jason also revealed his disappointment at never having played in an Olympics: “It’s a sore point for me, to think that I’ve never played in an Olympics. Could I have gone to Seoul? Barcelona, maybe… I just heard that jumpers nowadays earn good money a year. They really deserve it. The jumpers we have now are fantastic. My mistake is that I started too late. Probably diving wasn’t for me. I should have played a different sport. But it was a great experience, you know, traveling the world and competing at a certain level. It teaches discipline, focus and certainly keeps you out of trouble.”