SCOTLAND TEAM FOR HOME WORLD WHEELCHAIR CURLING CHAMPS IN STIRLING
Paralympic bronze medallist Aileen Neilson will skip Scotland’s team at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships which will be hosted in Stirling next month (3-10 March 2019).
Neilson is the most decorated athlete in the Scotland line-up having medalled at the Paralympics in Sochi, as well as earning silver and two bronze medals from previous world championship appearances in 2011, 2007 and 2017 respectively. The 47 year old who lives in Strathaven, was the first woman to skip a wheelchair curling team at a Paralympic Games (2010) and a world championships (2011) and her appearance at The Peak Sports Village next month will mark her ninth appearance at a world championships.
“It is always an honour to be selected to represent your country and whilst the Paralympics is the pinnacle of my career, to have the opportunity to compete in a home world championships is right up there too,” said Neilson.
“I was a spectator at the world’s when they were last hosted in Scotland back in 2005 and it was a light bulb moment. I had just started curling and met the team representing Scotland and I knew at that point I wanted to become a competitive curler and represent my country. I very much hope that we will have good home support with lots of saltires in the crowds next month and our team will inspire the next generation of wheelchair curlers to whatever level they aspire to,” she said.
Neilson is joined by fellow Sochi medallist Robert McPherson, who was also in the world bronze medal winning team in 2017 along with Hugh Nibloe, who made his Paralympic Games debut in PyeongChang in 2018. At 37 years, Nibloe is the youngest member of the quintet which features two world championship debutants.
David Melrose from Duns has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the game, having been introduced to the sport in 2014 and selected to the British Curling elite programme at the start of this season. His first competitive outing for Scotland was last October at the Stirling Wheelchair Curling International Invitation (SWCII) which was hosted at the same venue where he will make his first world championship appearance.
The 52 year old former fire fighter said: “I feel very excited and privileged to be part of this team and to wear the Scotland top with my name on the back feels very special. It is a wonderful opportunity to be part of a home championships, as I know for some of us it will be the first time that friends and family can watch us compete, having been unable to travel abroad for other events, so we will be aiming to deliver worthy performances for everyone.”
Gary Logan completes the team as alternate and he will earn his first cap for Scotland as he makes his world champs debut. The 47 year old has previously competed at two World B Wheelchair Curling Championships for the English Curling Association in 2015 and 2016, but as the son of Scottish parents he said: “My dad John would be ‘especially proud of my achievements and inclusion in the Scotland rink.”
Stirling’s hosting of the eight day event is the first time the world championships have been staged in Scotland since 2005 and the tournament will feature 12 teams for the first time. The member associations competing are Canada, China, Germany, Korea, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Switzerland and United States, along with nations Estonia and Latvia who are making their first appearance at these championships.
British Curling Head Wheelchair Coach Sheila Swan said: “This is the most important annual event in our sporting calendar, providing our first opportunity to gain crucial qualification points for ParalympicsGB towards the next Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2022.
“Our team comprises a mixture of experience and new talent which will aim to deliver another medal winning performance on the return of this tournament to Scotland. The last time we hosted the tournament was also the last time we won gold and we are looking forward to the backing of our Scottish supporters, who will no doubt play a huge role in welcoming all nations to the biggest event outside of the Paralympic Games,” Swan added.
Tickets are now on sale for the championships hosted at the Peak, which is operated by Active Stirling.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland's Director of Events, said: “I am delighted to see such a high calibre Scottish team competing in Stirling next month at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships. Scotland is the perfect stage for curling events and we look forward to welcoming many more world-class athletes from across the globe for what is sure to be an exciting tournament.”
Scottish Curling CEO, Bruce Crawford said: “We have selected a strong team to represent Scotland at this year’s World Wheelchair Curling Championships, which we are hosting in Stirling 3-10 March.
“The team has a good balance of experience alongside fresh talent which will make them exciting to watch.
“We wish them every success as they strive to perform in front of the home crowd in Stirling in the first event of the qualification process for the next Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing 2022.”
Ticket prices are £4 per session for round-robin group matches, £6 for Saturday’s knockout Semi Finals and £10 for Sunday’s Bronze and Gold medal matches.
For information on accessible seating please contact Box Office on 01786 473 544 / 274 000.
All tickets can be bought at: https://culturestirling.org/world-wheelchair-curling-championships/
Aileen Neilson (skip) – 47yrs, born East Kilbride, lives Strathaven
David Melrose – 52yrs, born Haddington, lives Duns
Robert McPherson – 50yrs, born Motherwell, lives Bellshill
Hugh Nibloe – 37yrs, born Stranraer, lives Stranraer
Gary Logan – 47yrs, born Berwick-upon-Tweed, lives Cornhil on Tweed, Northumberland
British Curling Photos: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart