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Duo look for Strong show at ECHO Arena; MERSEY-BASED PAIR LUKE AND PAM HOPING TO BE BOUNCING TO BOOK A TRIP TO RIO.

Byline: DAVID PRENTICE Head of Sport dave.prentice@liverpool.com @Prenno

LUKE STRONG is used to 'bouncing back' analogies.

After all, he is an elite level competitor in the unforgiving sport of trampolining - and in 2009 suffered an horrific leg break after which he was warned he may lose his leg.

But this weekend the 22-year-old from Tranmere hopes to be reading jumping for joy headlines.

Because the British Trampolining and Tumbling Championships are staged at the ECHO Arena tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday - and Luke is desperately hoping that he can claim the only Olympic place open to British men this summer. Luke won an historic bronze at the 2014 European Championships - Britain's first for 32-years - and in 2015 reclaimed the British title which he first won back in 2011.

But he needs another perfect performance at the ECHO Arena if he is going to avoid the heartbreak he endured in 2012 - when he missed out on the London Olympics by 0.1 marks - and claim Team GB's only men's trampolining place in Rio.

"Having only one place available does create a bit of pressure," said Luke in a break from training for this weekend.

"But we're used to it.

"Like everyone who does any elite sport, you can go through bad patches where training is more difficult, no matter who you are.

"Sometimes you can go to competitions and it's just not your day - it doesn't go to plan. Trampolining can be just like that. But training has been good recently.

"The team announcement is July 12 so we'll know officially then. But I don't think about it. I just try and blot it out of my mind. Trampoline is such an unforgiving sport you can be first or last with just one mistake.

"It's very, very cut throat in trampolining. Only 16 athletes from 130 athletes get to go to the Olympics. To get two from one country is very difficult when you have powerhouses like Russia, China and Japan.

"In the men's event China hasn't been beaten a major world event since 2005. They're amazing. Russia has a huge history in the sport, so they are always hard to beat.

"2012 was close. But I just decided to give everything I've got in these last four years and if it works out it works out, if it doesn't it wasn't meant to be" Luke's training partner at Liverpool's hugely successful Park Road centre, Pamela Clark, is also focused firmly on Rio.

Originally from South Lanarkshire in Scotland, the University of Liverpool student has been training in Liverpool for several years.

And the extra place available for Team GB women doesn't make her task any easier.

"It's tough for our sport because on competition day if you mess up that's it, you don't get to try again," Pam explained. "In other sports if you fall off or make a mistake you can have another shot and redeem yourself, but that's the nature of our sport.

"It is hard but you can't do anything about it. You just try your best.

"Everyone knows the Olympics are coming up but you just try not to think about it.

"You just focus on training and what you're trying to improve on. It is hard to put it out of your head.

"It's nice being at home and obviously you've got the support there - but a venue's a venue. You get a trampoline and that's it really. You just have to adapt."

Stalwarts of the Park Road centre in Toxteth, both Luke and Pam are looking forward to the opening of a brand new, purpose built trampolining centre in Hunts Cross which should attract even more enthusiasts to the sport - and hopefully hone even more elite level athletes.

The new centre is due to open on July 23 and Luke added: "It's really exciting for trampoline as a whole to get its own gym and be recognised.

"We have other trampoline clubs but they set up in sports halls, this is purpose built with 12 trampolines up all the time and the first tumbling gym ever in Liverpool where you can do double and mini trampolining which we're really successful at."

Spectators can check out just how successful this weekend at the ECHO Arena.

Pamela Clark (left) and Luke Strong

CAPTION(S):

Pamela Clark (left) and Luke Strong, who are members of the GBR senior trampoline team 210616trampoline_10IAN COOPER
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 30, 2016
Words:738
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