FORMER FIRE FIGHTER KEEPS HIS COOL AS HE MAKES HIS WHEELCHAIR CURLING DEBUT
David Melrose, a former fire fighter from Duns will be aiming to keep his cool as he makes his first competitive outing for Scotland since joining British Curling this summer and he makes that debut in Stirling this week.
Melrose, one of the newest recruits to the elite programme is delighted to be part of the Scotland team this week and to be surrounded by the now familiar faces that he had previously watched at Paralympic Games.
“To be selected to represent your country is a childhood dream come true for me and to be in the midst of those I had watched on tv when they were curling for ParalympicsGB is something else and I hope I can earn their respect this week, as they are just brilliant to work with,” he said, ahead of the Stirling Wheelchair Curling International Invitation (SWCII) 2018 which gets underway at The Peak tomorrow and concludes on Friday (Oct 19).
Melrose will be competing alongside Sochi bronze medallists Aileen Neilson and Robert McPherson, Hugh Nibloe who made his Paralympic debut earlier this year and John Doyle who also went to PyeongChang as part of the 2018 Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
The 52-year-old was introduced to wheelchair curling in 2014, the same year that some of his team mates won their Paralympic medals in Sochi and he admitted it was the first time he felt the adrenalin and excitement that he had experienced previously playing sport before he sustained a life changing injury in 2010.
Melrose had played both football and golf to a competitive level, which he fitted in around his job for Borders Council, as well as working as a part time fire fighter and it was while he was on duty, battling a fire at Eyemouth Golf Course, that he sustained a T12 break to his back when a steel beam landed on top of him.
“After my accident I tried different sports as I had enjoyed a long sporting career but it was only when I tried wheelchair curling that I realised I had found something that would give me a competitive edge,” he said.
“It has given me a new lease of life, a drive and a zest for life again. It has given me a focus and a chance to do something that I love doing.”
After taking up the sport, Melrose reached the final of the British Open in 2016 and is now looking forward to competing with his new British Curling team mates.
“It has been full-on since I was selected for the programme and I now understand what it takes to do this sport at the top level. Everyone is working really hard and I am pushing in that squad too as everyone wants a place on the team to compete,” he said.
“I admit there is some trepidation and nervousness about competing this week but I am excited too and appreciate this opportunity and I will wear the Scotland kit with a lot of pride.”
Aileen Neilson who will once again be skipping the team this week said: “It is our first event of the season and actually the first event for some of us since the Paralympic Games in South Korea. It will be good to get out there competing again.
“It is the start of a new Paralympic cycle and the chance to wipe the slate clean and it is good that we have some fresh blood in the squad as we make a new start after a number of months of technical training and hope to get some wins under our belts this week.”
British Curling Head Wheelchair Coach Sheila Swan said: “This event has attracted a strong field with a number of Paralympic teams with slightly different line-ups, so some unknown quantities which will make for an interesting event. Plus there are the teams such as Latvia, the Czech Republic and England preparing for the World B Championships, so all of the teams in the field are aiming to get some good competitive experience from the week ahead.
“For our squad the big target this year is the World Wheelchair Curling Championships hosted here in Stirling next March, so it is good to start our season with an event hosted here with a strong international presence.”
“Having new personnel in the squad is exciting and it is probably the biggest influx of new talent for some time, so freshens things up and the new athletes on board understand this is a big undertaking being on the programme and have really embraced the challenge.
“The squad has been training together since August and this is an opportunity to see how that work transpires into games in tournaments. It will be great to use this event as a stepping stone towards other international events as we build towards and hopefully establish a good finish at a home worlds, all part of the new Paralympic cycle just getting underway,” she concluded.
SCOTLAND WHEELCHAIR CURLING TEAM - SWCII 2018
For more information please visit Stirling Wheelchair Curling Club for event details
Photos: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.