8:42am Thursday 5th July 2012
By Scott Wilson
IF the streets of Washington are deserted on Saturday, August 4, then North-East trampolinist Kat Driscoll will be the reason why.
Driscoll, who trains at the Apollo Club in Washington Leisure Centre, was yesterday confirmed as Great Britain's sole trampolining representative at this summer's Olympics.
Her entire programme is scheduled for the middle Saturday of the Games, and she has already arranged tickets for her friends, family and a host of her club-mates.
For those unable to attend North Greenwich Arena, the Apollo Club are hoping to screen her event live on a big screen in the main sports hall at Washington. As a result, she will hardly be lacking for support as she tackles the biggest challenge of her sporting career.
“It's going to be fantastic,” said Driscoll, who is based at West Rainton, near Houghton-le-Spring, after moving to the North-East eight years ago.“It'll be great having my family there – I've got my mum and dad, my brother, my brother's girlfriend and my husband - and it's great that all the girls from the club are coming down too because they're basically my other family.
“They come everywhere with me – they were at the World Championships and the Olympic trials – and it's great to hear a voice you recognise when you're nervous and just about to start your routine.
“They've been my support group around me right through this Olympic process, and I'll be listening for them at very specific points in my routine. It'll be a help having them there, and it's given me more confidence knowing I'm not going to be stuck in this big arena all on my own.”
Driscoll will compete against 15 other trampolinists in London, with the top eight progressing from the preliminary round to the final.
No British woman has ever made the final of an Olympic trampolining competition, but Driscoll's performances in last year's World Cup series, where she topped the world rankings and eventually finished eighth at the World Championships, suggest she is more than capable of creating history.
Beyond that, anything is possible, but with two preliminary routines to execute – a compulsory programme and a voluntary sequence – the 26-year-old is refusing to get ahead of herself.
“It'll be the highest-quality field I've ever known,” she said. “In one respect, it's a bit easier because there's only 16 competitors, but in another respect it's hugely difficult because it's the best 16 competitors in the world.
“There's not going to be any margin for error. The 16 will become eight at the end of the prelims, and you're going to have to nail both of your prelim jumps to make that last eight. As long as I stay clean though, I know I've got a good chance.
“At this stage, you can't really think about the final. I don't want to set targets of winning medals or where I want to finish because the competition to make the final is going to be pretty intense. Just getting there will be an achievement, then you can start to think about what you want to achieve.”
Driscoll booked her spot at the Games when she won the final trial in Liverpool at the start of last month, but she has had to wait more than four weeks for her participation to be confirmed as the selection process for the rest of the gymnastics squad remained incomplete.
That changed at Great Britain's pre-Olympic training base at Loughborough University yesterday, and as she prepared to embark on the Team GB Experience, an introductory process that ends with the collection of a competitor's official Team GB kit, she was able to reflect on what her Olympic debut will mean.
“I don't think I've ever been so excited in my life,” she said. “It's obviously been an ambition to compete in the Olympics for a while, but now it's less than a month away it suddenly seems extremely close and extremely real.
“It's been a weird few weeks because I knew I'd qualified at the final trial, but I wasn't able to say anything until the team was officially confirmed. You kind of have to forget it about all and just get on with your normal training.
“I've been to Spain and Switzerland for two World Cups, but my mind has obviously been on the Olympics. Now it's all official, I can start to get excited. On Tuesday, I found myself sitting smiling thinking, 'Tomorrow, I can really shout about this'.
“It's really hard when you see all the tweets about Team GB announcing new members, but it isn't you. It's all worth it now though and because we've been able to announce the whole gymnastics squad together, it's been worth the wait.”
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