CRAIG WADDELL JOINS BIG BROTHER KYLE IN BID FOR EUROPEAN CHAMPS GLORY
Craig Waddell’s last experience of supporting his older brother Kyle competing at the European Championships, was watching from the spectator stands in the St Gallen arena when Scotland’s men’s team won silver in 2017. At this month’s Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships in Helsingborg, Sweden (15-23 November 2019), the 24 year old will join his older sibling and Team Paterson as their fifth man, for their first European campaign together.
The brothers are looking to follow in the footsteps of their grandfather, Jimmy, who became a European Champion in 1979, and along with their grandmother, introduced them to the game at Hamilton Ice Rink when they were eight years old.
“We both took a liking to it straight away and we always tried to be better than each other, largely because we both hate losing,” said Craig Waddell, who plays third for Team Bryce and juggles his curling ambitions with work in the construction industry.
Commenting on their sibling rivalry, Craig believes it has previously been a huge driving force that has resulted in both of them competing for two of the top men’s curling teams in Scotland. He also noted that whilst their grandparents are the reason they started out in the sport, it was their parents that helped them both pursue their curling ambitions in the elite game.
“We have always been competitive with each other and I think that has pushed us on to be better curlers and we have learned a lot from each other,” he said.
"It has been years since we played on the same team, when mum and dad used to drive us to training or to games, so we owe them a lot, as well as our grandparents who got us started.”
Heading to the Europeans as a competitor and visiting the host nation for the first time, Craig is looking forward to sharing that experience with Kyle.
“It was really nice to be asked to be the fifth man. I played lead for 10 years and have played third like my brother for the past four, so suspect that my versatility helped. I get on really well with the team and I am just pleased to be doing this with my brother,” he added.
Kyle Waddell, 18 months senior and one of Team GB’s representatives at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang last year, feels his younger brother will be a huge asset to him and to the team.
“Having Craig as fifth will be a very good addition. Dynamically we know he will fit in well, that’s one of the reasons we chose him and that is really important. He also has the ability to cover multiple positions, which is key in the event of an unfortunate injury or illness,” said the Olympian.
“Our skip Ross Paterson knows we are all going there with the same mindset and the same goals, so we are delighted to have him on board.”
Two-time former winner Eve Muirhead will skip Scotland’s women into action and, like Kyle Waddell, will be looking to replicate the podium finish achieved in 2017. Muirhead’s new combination this season, Lauren Gray, Jennifer Dodds and Vicky Wright will be joined by national champion Sophie Sinclair as alternate.
“We are delighted to have Sophie join us for the European Championships,” said Eve Muirhead.
“Sophie and I have been rivals for many years and I have always been impressed by her way of playing. She will do a great job for us, along with the coaches, to put us in great stead for every single match at the championships.”
Sinclair, who plays lead for Scottish Champions Team Jackson, said she was thrilled to be asked.
“I am both really excited and honoured,” said Sinclair.
“It has been a dream of mine to go to the European Championships. It is a great way to learn so much from that level of curling.”
It will be Sinclair’s first experience of the Europeans, having been to her first world championships as part of Team Jackson earlier this year.
“Going to the worlds was a big learning curve and we were lucky to have Lauren Gray as our fifth player for that event. Lauren was such an inspiring player to be around and did such a great job for us, it is my opportunity to return the favour and hopefully be as good a fifth as she was for us,” she added.
“Being a spare for other teams is a great way of creating lasting friendships, as well as learning from players like Eve, who have so much knowledge and is someone I have always looked up to in my career. It is a great opportunity and also a chance for me to provide another area of support to the team.”
Sweden will host the European Championships for a fifth time, which also functions as the qualifier for the 2020 World Curling Championships, at which nations compete for qualifying points for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The World Women’s Curling Championships will be hosted at the CN Centre in Prince George, in British Columbia, Canada from 14-22 March 2020.
Craig Waddell (alternate)
Sophie Sinclair (alternate)
Please click here for the draw, results and more information about the European Championships.
Images: © Graeme Hart