MEET the mastermind behind Wearside Olympic hopeful Kat Driscoll’s success.
Bill Leach’s top coaching skills have seen his 25-year-old protegé secure herself a spot as the country’s number one trampolinist after being crowned the new British individual and synchronised trampoline champion.
Kat is currently ranked number one in the world after a string of recent competitions across the globe.
The talented trampolinist owes much of her success to her coach Bill, of Pennywell, who has helped take a series of Wearside trampolinists to international stardom since becoming a coach in 1973.
International trampolinists he has helped nurture include Ian Ross, of High View, who enjoyed world champion success and Anne Fraser, of South Hylton, who went on to become an international trampoline star.
Recently he coached Gary Short, who became a British champion.
Now he is training Gary’s wife, Kat, who is hoping to represent Britain in next year’s Olympics.
Bill, 60, said: “I’ve seen a lot of successes and it’s strange because I’m just a lad from Pennywell.
“The experiences have been amazing and I’ve got to travel all over the world, including Japan, China and the Czech Republic.
“I went to Beijing as part of the Olympic Ambition Programme, which was very exciting, and I hope to be a coach at the Olympics.”
As well as nurturing international stars, Bill spends his time introducing young Wearsiders to the trampoline.
He puts on regular sessions at Pennywell Community Centre and the Tansey Centre in South Hylton during school holidays.
Bill said: “The sessions are really popular and some weeks we have up to 100 people coming. That’s great because that’s 100 children who are not on the streets.
“There’s some great talent and there are a couple of people I’m keeping my eye on.”
Bill was a PE teacher at Pennywell School from 1972 to 1990 and originally specialised in coaching rugby and gymnastics.
One day he decided to use the trampoline to help teach the gymnasts somersaults and he was instantly hooked.
“I got a boys’ team together and we went all over the North East before entering a competition in Aalsmere, Holland. We were hooked from there on.
“We started going Denmark and Germany and children from Pennywell and South Hylton were experiencing something very special.”
BILL is heading to Birmingham with Kat Driscoll this week. The Trampoline and Tumbling World Championships start on Thursday.