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Dreamed of Olympic gold and became a brutal movie icon: the story of Jason Statham

What did the famous actor Jason Statham do before Hollywood?

Over the course of his acting career, 56-year-old Jason Statham has gone from being a gangster to one of the world's most recognizable action stars. But before the era of glitz and glamor, the famous actor aspired to reach a completely different pinnacle.

It was only in 1998 that he made his film debut in Guy Ritchie's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," the Daily Mail reports. Eight years earlier, the 23-year-old was in Auckland, where he took part in the Commonwealth Games. The Death Race star, who represented England, was actually a professional diver.

It was a decent attempt by the future celebrity, who actually competed in three separate events. He made it into the top ten in the one-meter springboard, and then took two 11th-place finishes on the three-meter and 10-meter springboards, respectively.

Statham credits his athletic career as one of the reasons for his success on the big screen: "I think that what I didn't achieve [in sports] helped me to focus more and take my acting career more seriously," he said in a 2008 interview with the BBC.

Dreamed of Olympic gold and became a brutal movie icon: the story of Jason Statham

Olympic dreams

Although many of the actor's fans are unaware of Statham's past as a diver, his interest in sports is unlikely to come as a surprise. The Derbyshire-born star has trained in martial arts, including kickboxing and karate, as evidenced by his numerous projects.

Dreamed of Olympic gold and became a brutal movie icon: the story of Jason Statham

But his love for diving began when he was a teenager. "I was on vacation in Florida with my mom and dad, and there was a guy who was diving from a height. He was jumping at noon every day at the hotel where we were staying," Statham says: "When we get home, I'm going to do that too."

Then the future celebrity joined the club - he was 12 years old at the time. "A year later, I was already part of the British team and I spent the next 10 years doing it," he recalls.

Dreamed of Olympic gold and became a brutal movie icon: the story of Jason Statham

His hard work and dedication at a young age paid off when, in 1985, he was accepted to the British National Diving School, gaining the right to represent Great Britain and England in international competitions. But he was not destined to take a place at the Olympic Games: Statham took part in the qualifiers for the 1988 and 1992 Summer Games in Seoul and Barcelona, respectively, but failed both times.

Dreamed of Olympic gold and became a brutal movie icon: the story of Jason Statham

Despite starring in many popular movies throughout his acting career, including The Expendables, Transformers, and the Fast and Furious franchise, his only sore spot was his inability to make it to the Olympics.

Dreamed of Olympic gold and became a brutal movie icon: the story of Jason Statham

"It's a bit of a pain that I never got to go to the Olympics," Jason said during one of the premieres of his film after Jack Laffer and Chris Mears became the first British men to win an Olympic diving gold medal in Rio 2016. The divers are just amazing now. I started too late. Maybe it wasn't my thing. I should have done another sport."

Dreamed of Olympic gold and became a brutal movie icon: the story of Jason Statham

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