Big Interview: Move to Leeds can point way to Tokyo Olympics

TEENAGE diver Kat Torrance has already taken her family on one life-changing journey.

Silver highlight: Katherine Torrance and Alicia Blagg with their silver medals.

The Croydon-born athlete was just 15 when she uprooted the whole family from Kent to Yorkshire to be based at her sport’s national centre in Leeds.

Longer term, it is hoped the Tokyo Olympics will prove the ultimate destination for a diver determined to make the most of her relocation to be with the country’s best.

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Torrance is the latest emerging star from the all-conquering City Of Leeds Diving Club with the 19-year-old initially making fine progress at Crystal Palace Diving Club, winning gold medals at the 2009, 2010 and 2011 ASA National Age Group Diving Championships.

Determined to reach the top of her sport, Torrance felt a major move was needed and believed diving’s national centre in Leeds would be the optimum place to develop her talents.

Consequently, the diver relocated to Yorkshire with mum Sarah, dad Paul and brother Ryan, who all needed to adjust to a new life at the other end of the country.

Torrance kept her end of the bargain by going on to excel on the international stage, notably when winning two golds and a bronze at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Kazan, one year after victory in the women’s 3m event at the European Games.

Another step forward was taken when she bagged a silver medal alongside Alicia Blagg for England in the 3m women’s synchro at this year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia.

Torrance will now hope to take another step up the senior ladder at next month’s European Championships in Glasgow and she is intent on progressing all the way to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“Because of the success that everyone was having, Leeds was the absolute place to be,” said Torrance.

“Crystal Palace is more of a club for the younger divers and coming up to Leeds was the chance to really push myself and move forwards – or the option was to kind of stay where I was.

“I wasn’t really okay with being mediocre so me, my mum, my dad and my brother, all moved up and I think we are all a lot happier up in Yorkshire. It’s a lot more of a friendlier community up here. It’s really good.

“My dad had to travel down to London for a couple of months at first and my mum had to transfer schools because she works at a school. There was that kind of pressure of everyone moving up for me so this had to work. But my mum and dad always said if we ever need to move back or it doesn’t work out then we will absolutely do anything that you need us to do, which is really good to have such supportive parents.”

Nearly five years on, the move to Leeds has proved the correct one for Torrance, who achieved her biggest success on the senior international stage with Blagg.

Torrance had been training with Grace Reid in the 3m synchro event for the previous 18 months but there was no chance of Edinburgh-born Reid partnering her in Australia.

Determined to still have a crack at glory, Torrance was paired with the former Leeds star though the duo had little preparation time with Blagg now based in Miami.

Torrance explained: “I had to do synchro with Alicia Blagg instead of Grace and we had to learn to do it in a week together because Alicia trains in Miami. To end up getting a silver in that was mind-blowing, we did not expect that at all.

“My individual events were also really good, mainly just for experience. With Alicia, it was a case of there would be no synchro without us so we decided to give it a shot and see how it went. It was really good.”

Torrance is naturally optimistic about achieving greater things with regular partner Reid.

“Me and Grace started together at the beginning of 2017 so not majorly long,” said Torrance.

“But it’s definitely on its way to being a solid continued pairing. Everything is going well and we have got the Europeans next which is our main focus competition and we believe we have got a pretty good chance at that.

“The more we develop that synchro pairing then, hopefully, we can go into Tokyo 2020 with a good sight of achieving a medal. I definitely think we’ll be ready for it when it comes around.”

Glasgow welcomes Europe’s sporting elite from August 2-12 with 52 nations taking part in 12 aquatic sports over 11 days.