PARALYMPICSGB WHEELCHAIR CURLERS TO COMPETE IN LAST EVENT BEFORE GAMES
The ParalympicGB wheelchair curlers whose selection was announced last month will make their final competitive outing this weekend at the British Open in Hamilton (4-6 February) ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games, which get underway in 36 days time.
Aileen Neilson will skip her Sochi team mates Angie Malone MBE, Gregor Ewan, Robert McPherson as well as Hugh Nibloe – who is making his debut at the forthcoming Games – on home ice before she embarks on her third Paralympic campaign.
"We are looking forward to playing in the British Open, as our last competition before we head off to South Korea. It is a strong field of 12 teams and is a great opportunity to play against some experienced Scottish teams as well as some we will face at the Paralympic Games,” she said.
“With the event taking place at Lanarkshire Ice Rink, my local rink, it will be great to have many friends and family members cheering us on and although they are not heading out to PyeongChang, we know they will be giving us their full support and throwing every stone with us when we represent Great Britain in March.”
Malone MBE, Britain’s most decorated Paralympic curler heading for her fourth Games is also relishing the prospect of taking on a high quality field assembled for this event.
“The competition will be fierce as always which makes it all the more exciting!” said Malone.
“It’s fantastic to get the opportunity to play against Korea in Scotland before heading out to PyeongChang and also the Swedish and German Paralympic representatives, as well as the national Danish team.
“The South Lanarkshire teams entered also have previous Paralympians in their teams who will give us a good game.”
For Games debutant Hugh Nibloe, his sights are set on the British Open hat-trick as well as finalising preparations.
”It’s the last chance to try things in competitive action before PyeongChang and previously we have done well at the British having won the last two, so we are looking to make it three in a row this year,” he said.
Scotland’s Head Wheelchair Coach Sheila Swan is keen that the team concentrate on delivering good performances this weekend.
“It’s a very decent line up for team’s last event and it is also the last chance to make sure they are getting the pre-match routines right and tactically making the good calls and executing the shots. Hamilton is always a very supportive venue of wheelchair curling so it is a good place to be going to with good local support,” Swan said.
“Obviously the Games are now at the forefront of everyone’s minds and with the Olympic curlers away now it is making the Paralympics feel much closer. It is great that we have already competed at the Gangneung Curling Centre where we claimed bronze at the World’s last year. It was a very positive experience of the venue and the transport system and having had a positive result there we are looking forward to going back.
“It is a slightly different format at the Games this time with 12 teams competing instead of ten and so with a larger field there is an increase in sessions with three draws a day.
“However the team has invested a lot of their time in physical preparation as well as utilising nutritional support so they have done all of the background work to enable them to go out and deliver,” she added.
The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games take place from March 9-18 with the wheelchair curling event running from 10-17 March. .
Aileen Neilson (Strathaven) - 45
Gregor Ewan (Elgin) - 46
Hugh Nibloe (Stranraer) - 35
Robert McPherson (Bellshill) - 49
Angie Malone MBE (Glasgow) – 52
British Curling Photos: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.