Trampolinist Kat Driscoll out to keep improving after World Cup bronze in Azerbaijan

Kat Driscoll with her World Cup bronze medal from Azerbaijan. Picture by Frank Reid
Kat Driscoll with her World Cup bronze medal from Azerbaijan. Picture by Frank Reid
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She may not be thumbing through an A-Z of Rio de Janeiro just yet, but Kat Driscoll is preparing to make another Olympic statement.

The gymnast is counting down the days to the 2016 European Championships in Spain, where she will be challenging for another podium position.

Driscoll has just returned from a World Cup event in Azerbaijan proudly clutching a bronze medal and is Great Britain’s in-form trampoline performer.

Following hot on the heels from her excellent seventh place at the World Championships at the end of last year, it puts her that one step closer to Rio selection.

Not that she is taking anything for granted.

“It’s a long selection process, but winning a medal is not going to do any harm,” the 29-year-old told the Echo in the plush surroundings of the Ramside Hall.

“There are a lot of events that are going to count and all the [British] girls are on a pretty even playing field at the moment.

“I’ve just had a good result, but there are the Europeans, two World Cup events and the British Championships to go yet before selection.

“I’m not going to get carried away and think I have a place.

“I will get back in the gym and look to keep making improvements.

“It is a quick turnaround for the Europeans and I’ll be looking for much the same as what I did in Baku, but try to make some tiny gains which might improve me.”

It would be a shock, bordering on a travesty, were the West Rainton trampolinist NOT to make it to Brazil, though she is one of five Brits bidding to make it.

There are two spots to aim for, which she helped gain for her country along with Bryony Page following their success at the Worlds in November. Bryony finished fifth there.

Kat aims to be even better in 2016 than she was in 2015 and she has started as she means to go on.

The World Cup last weekend in Baku saw Driscoll defeat many of her potential Olympic rivals, with China the only country missing from the competition.

Almost all of the principal trampoline exponents on the planet were in action and Kat was there at the sharp end of the competition.

Driscoll lost out to the Belarus pair of Hanna Harchonak and Tatsiana Piatrenia, who took the top two places, but bronze was a beautiful colour to carry home just three months on from the promise of the World Championships.

“I knew there was potential to medal,” said Driscoll, who is coached by her husband, Gary Short, at the Apollo club in Washington and by GB boss Tracy Whittaker-Smith at the National Centre in Lilleshall.

“But because it was the first international competition of the season you are never really sure what people have been working on since the World Championship.

“The British girls have all been working hard in the gym to make improvements, but you don’t know what other people have been doing.

“I knew there was a possibility of getting on the podium, but my focus was on my performance and try to make improvements on my World Championship performance.”

Driscoll, born in Kent, made the North East her home 11 years ago in her bid to reach the heights in trampolining.

She has done just that, winning World and European medals not to mention representing her country at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Inside that slender, athletic frame beats an incredible competitor, as well as a hugely-skilled technician.

Told as a youngster she would not make it, she soon proved her detractors wrong.

And having her doubters write her off as past it for the 2016 Games, she is relishing proving that, at 29, she is in fact at the peak of her powers

“I’d be the first British trampoline gymnast to go to two Olympics,” said Kat.

“A lot of people didn’t expect me to carry on after London or thought I’d fade away before now.

“People thought the younger ones coming through might beat me and I would not be able to keep up with what’s going on.

“We had a new person take over for this Olympic cycle and I think some weren’t sure I could work in that environment, so it’s been nice to prove a lot of people wrong.”

“I turn 30 soon and a lot think that’s very old.

“Age, to me, is just a number. My body and mind are in good places and I think I am jumping the best I’ve jumped in a long time so i’m going to keep going with it.”