Elite coaching

European Tour champion Graeme Storm is backing a new Elite Performer Programme at Durham County’s Thorp Academy.

Along with Olympic swimming silver medalist Nick Gillingham, who also won golds at World and European Championships, and former Sunderland footballer Gary Bennett, Storm was at the launch of the programme.

All three will have a hands-on roles along with Julio Arca and Keiron Brady, who also played for Sunderland as well as ex-Middlesbrough defender Dean Gordon.

There are also links being forged with Durham County Cricket Club and Durham County Rugby Union as well as Northumberland’s Close House course, venue for this year’s British Masters as the Academy, based at Ryton Secondary School and Sixth Form College, gears up for its September intake .

Storm, will be involved in a mentoring and coaching role, much as he is at Dyke House in Hartlepool. He said: “I get a real buzz from getting involved in things like this. I’m very keen that we identify and help young golfers in the North East to make sure we have future tournament players coming along able to play at the top level.”

Storm, Bennett and Gillingham all spoke to a packed audience at the launch and Danny Evans, the Elite Performer Programme’s co-ordinator, said: “It’s great we have Graeme, Gary and Nick involved as well as the rest of the guys.”