Travel 640km to make a 10m leap


Jessica Williams has to be driven from Kent to Yorkshire every weekend to use a 10metre-high diving board.

Jessica WilliamsJessica Williams

The 13-year-old gets no financial support and her parents are paying £2,000 a month in hotel bills.

‘I don’t know how long we can keep this up, it is crippling us financially,’ said her mother, Alison.

Jessica’s situation was unacceptable, said Lord Coe, who led the team which won the Olympics for London.

Jessica is a ten-time national champion at the 1m, 3m and 5m boards but needs to step up to 10m for the Games.

Her problems began earlier this month when her pool in Crystal Palace, South-East London, was shut because asbestos was found in the roof.

There are only two other places in the country with the right board.

The nearest one, in Southampton, is too busy so Jessica, her mother and her coach must go to Sheffield from their home in Erith, Kent.

They stay in a hotel for two nights at so Jessica can train for two days, on top of her regime during the week.

Jessica said: ‘I find the travelling terribly tiring but I really enjoy my diving and want to be the best.’

Her mother wants the Government to help. The 40-year-old added: ‘You would have thought there would be more finance available. But, no matter where we turn, we meet brick walls.’

To help Jessica handle her intense workload, Mrs Williams has given up her job as a travel agent.

The teenager’s situation is ‘dire’, according to Chris Snode, former British and world champion diver.

‘We have some of the most dedicated youngsters in the world but some of the poorest facilities,’ he said.

He explained 82 pools with diving boards have closed in the past decade in London alone.

Lord Coe promised more was being done to help Olympic hopefuls.

‘The facilities we are building for London 2012 and beyond will make sure this situation does not happen again,’ he added.

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