KAT DRISCOLL has cemented her status as Britain's greatest ever trampolinist by winning a team gold and individual silver at the European Trampoline and Tumbling Championships in Portugal.
Driscoll, who is based at West Rainton and a member of the Apollo Trampoline Club in Washington, teamed up with Bryony Page, Pamela Clark and Laura Gallagher to help the British team defend the European title they had won two years earlier.
The 28-year-old returned to action in the final of the individual event and claimed her first senior individual medal as she finished second behind Belarussian Hanna Harchonak.
“It was a really good week,” said Driscoll, who won the Senior Sporting Excellence award at last year's Northern Echo Local Heroes Awards. “There was so much pressure on us to deliver the team gold, and we all stepped up to the mark even though the Russian team made it really difficult for us.
“Then in the individual competition, I was delighted with the way I performed in the prelim and the final. I qualified in first in the prelims, and although I would obviously have liked to win gold, getting an individual silver is quite an achievement.”
Driscoll was the last of the British quartet to perform in the final of the team competition, with the scores of the four Russian trampolinists meaning she knew she had no room for error as she began her routine.
Last year, the London Olympian held things together to secure a team gold at the World Championships, and 12 months on, she retained her composure again to add a European title to the British squad's burgeoning list of achievements.
“I'm the most senior member of the squad, so it's only right that the pressure goes on my shoulders,” she said. “To be honest, I probably felt it even more at the Europeans than I had at the Worlds because it was an event we were always meant to win.
“The Russians really brought their A-game and as soon as I got off the trampoline, I knew it was going to be tight. They flashed all the individuals scores up, but it was impossible to work out who had actually won because everything was so tight.
“Then after a few seconds, it came up that we'd won by a couple of hundredths. We were all stood in a row linking arms and it was a great feeling to know we'd done it.”
Britain's score of 160.205 put them 0.035 ahead of Russia, a ridiculously small margin given the technical nature of the sport.
The individual final was almost as close, with Driscoll eventually finishing 0.71 behind Harchonak, but comfortably clear of Ukraine's Maryna Kyiko, who was third, and Page, who was the other Briton to qualify from the prelims.
“The standard in the British squad is so high now that just being one of the two girls to make it through to the final is a bit of an achievement,” said Driscoll. “That was always the number one aim, so to top the scores in the prelims was a bit of a bonus really.
“I headed into the final knowing I had a good chance, and I made a point of not watching what anyone else was doing so I could concentrate on my own routine.
“I was last to jump, and when I finished I was hoping I'd just done enough to get gold. It was mixed emotions really when it flashed up I was second, but I've watched the winning routine back subsequently and it deserved to win.”
Driscoll will return to international action in a World Cup event in September, and should be part of the British squad for the World Championships in the United States in November.