KAT DRISCOLL is confident her injury problems are behind her as she prepares to compete in the World Trampoline Championships that begin in the Bulgarian capital Sofia tomorrow morning.

This will be Driscoll’s fifth appearance at a World Championships, with her best performance coming in 2013 when she claimed a synchro gold with Amanda Parker.

Her best individual result was the fourth-place finish she recorded in 2014, and with a European bronze medal on her CV as well as an appearance in the OIympic final in Rio de Janeiro, she will compete in tomorrow morning’s preliminary competition with every chance of making both the individual and team finals.

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Her preparations for this week’s championships have been far from smooth, as she was forced to miss the vast majority of the season through an injury that worsened in the wake of last year’s Olympics.

She returned to action in time to compete in the British Championships, and while there were understandable signs of rust as she claimed a silver medal, her performances improved with every round, peaking in the final.

With another six weeks of training under her belt since then, both at her Washington Leisure Centre base and British Gymnastics’ high-performance centre at Lilleshall, she is happy with her fitness levels ahead of her biggest test of the year.

“It’s been a bit of a battle to get here, but I’m here in good shape and the last block of training has gone well,” said Driscoll, who is based at West Rainton. “The British Champs probably came a couple of weeks too early if I’m honest because I hadn’t really had chance to do the preparation work I would have wanted.

“It was an amazing weekend for the club (all eight of Apollo’s competitors claimed a medal), but on a personal level I knew I wasn’t going to be at my best in Liverpool.

“The Worlds were always the big target for the season, and hopefully I can get back to the kind of levels I’m capable of, and that I’ve competed at in the past. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m the kind of person who tends to produce their best when the pressure is on.”

With Olympic medallist Bryony Page absent because of injury, Driscoll is by far the most experienced member of the British team.

She is joined by Laura Gallagher, who pipped her to the British title, and Isabelle Songhurst, a former World and European champion at junior level, but Page’s absence will make it difficult for the British squad to claim team honours.

Most of their rivals will be competing with a team of four, enabling them to drop the score of their worst-performing trampolinist. All three of the British team’s scores will count, meaning there will be precious little room for error in both tomorrow’s qualification event and Friday’s final, if the British squad make it that far.

Tomorrow’s qualifying scores will also determine the line-up for Sunday’s individual final, with Driscoll hoping to be doubling up.

“It would be great to make the team final, but we know it’s going to be tough,” she said. “With Bryony not being here, we’ve not really got any margin for error.

“We’ve always done well in the team competition in the past though, and there are a lot of different countries at a fairly similar level. There’s probably two or three teams where you can pretty safely say they’ll make the final, but the other places are up for grabs.

“With the individual, it’ll be interesting to see where the other girls are at after the Olympics. This is the first competition since Rio where the whole of the world is competing, so it’s the first real chance to see what other people are doing with their routines.”

As well as the trampolining, Sofia will also host World Championships in tumbling and double mini-trampoline, with Durham’s Rachel Davies having been named in the British squad for the former discipline.


NICOLA WILSON was named the Professional Rider of the Year at the Horse and Hound Awards, which were staged at Ascot Racecourse last month.

The award capped a magnificent season for Morton-on-Swale-based Wilson, who won a team gold and individual bronze at this year’s European Eventing Championships.

Wilson’s horse, Bulana, was named Horse of the Year at British Eventing’s end-of-season awards ceremony, having claimed a total of 357 points during the course of the season.

As well as starring at the European Championships, the 11-year-old mare also claimed a silver medal at a prestigious three-day-event at Luhmuhlen.

Bulana is owned by Jo and James Lambert, who were presented with the Light Horse Calcutta Challenge Cup at the awards ceremony.

“Bulana’s place at the head of the leading horse league is a fantastic achievement for Nicola’s loyal owners, Jo and James Lambert, and a fitting celebration of their European team gold and individual bronze medal,” said British Eventing chief executive David Holmes.