MEGGAN CONTINUES LIFE-TRANSFORMING SPORTING CAREER WITH WORLD CHAMPS CALL UP
Former Commonwealth Games athlete Meggan Dawson-Farrell has been rewarded for her bold decision to change sports with selection for the Scotland team competing at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Wetzikon, Switzerland later this month (29 February - 7 March 2020).
The 27 year old, who was named today as the team’s fifth member, previously represented her country in the 2014 Commonwealth Games Para-Sports 1500m wheelchair event and she has demonstrated her speed in a different way with her rapid progress since being inducted into the British Curling programme earlier this season, having taken up the sport just last year.
“I had my first taste of wheelchair curling at a ‘come and try’ session at the National Curling Academy (NCA) in May 2019 and I was hooked from that point on,” she said.
That session was led by Paralympic Sochi bronze medallist Robert McPherson, who introduced her to the game and she is delighted that she will now be joining him and team mates Hugh Nibloe, David Melrose, as well as fellow debutant Charlotte McKenna at the World Champs at the end of the month.
“I would never have presumed that I might get the call up. If there is no expectation there are no blows, so it was a great surprise and an honour to get the selection, especially as I am so new to the sport and my team mates are a very talented bunch of athletes and very well-deserving individuals,” Dawson-Farrell noted.
Living in Tullibody, close to the programme’s base at the NCA in Stirling, she has put in the hours to get up to speed for her biggest test yet in the winter sport.
“It feels a bit surreal to have been selected, it has not quite sunk in yet and my mum and dad are over the moon and they know I have worked hard for this. I am extremely grateful for all the support and training I have received and I have felt a bit like a sponge, trying to absorb everything I possibly can,” she said.
Dawson-Farrell hopes her example of talent transfer and the prospect of representing Scotland for a second time will inspire others to try curling. However, she admitted that she had to overcome her own fears to start her relatively late career pathway to becoming a full time athlete and feels sport in many ways has been her salvation.
“It actually makes me feel a bit scared when I think what my life would have been like if I had not discovered my love of sport and it really is thanks to my parents,” she acknowledged.
Born with Spina Bifida, Dawson-Farrell has always been a wheelchair user and her sporting talents went undiscovered until her parents Kirstie and John booked her a place at a sports camp in Largs, organised by Scottish Disability Sport and Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland.
“I was 16 years old, I was resistant to going and I was terrified, so much so that my mum and aunt had to book into a local B&B in Largs,” she recalled.
“However for the first time I was surrounded by other kids like me who had a disability. I felt welcome, I could relate to others and not having had any previous experience or provision of sport during my school years, I suddenly discovered I loved it.”
She was encouraged to join a local athletics club, Forth Valley Flyers in Grangemouth and never looked back, her drive and ambition leading to the chance to compete in a Commonwealth Games in front of a home crowd in 2014. However, despite qualifying for the final her medal aspirations were blighted by illness.
“No-one fully understands the extent of ailments and illnesses and the challenges they represent to disabled athletes unless you are close to them,” Dawson-Farrell pointed out.
“I wanted to be in that final despite having a kidney infection and pleaded my case with the surgeon, telling him he would have to wait until after I had competed.
“I finished seventh and three days later I was having surgery to correct the condition.
Despite moving from what she calls a ‘warm sport’ to a ‘cold sport’, she finds the camaraderie and team element of curling an even more positive experience.
“In races it was just me as an individual on the start line. I had a great support team but the focus was all on me and I found it quite a lonely sport because of that, whereas in the team environment of curling everybody is pulling together, sharing the experience of the highs and lows no matter what,” she said.
“I love the team dynamic side of it. It is a sport I want to be playing for years to come and I hope my example will show others that they should try curling at any age and hopefully get so much out of the experience.
“Going to my first World Curling Champs is such an exciting time for me and my team mates and hopefully this time around it will be my time to shine.”
Scotland will meet Russia in their opening game of the eight day event hosted in the Curling Hlall Wetzikon, where they hope to replicate the form of last year’s line-up that won silver in Stirling. 12 mixed gender teams will be taking part, competing for medals at the championships as well as qualification points for the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Players selected for World Championships:
Hugh Nibloe (Stirling)
Robert McPherson (Bellshill)
David Melrose (Duns)
Charlotte McKenna (Bridge of Allan)
Meggan Dawson-Farrell - Alternate (Tullibody)
Please c lick here for more information on the World Wheelchair Curling Championships .
Images: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart.