Wheelchair curlers set for British Open showdown ahead of PyeongChang
Before flying across the world for the Paralympic Winter Games in just over a month’s time, Britain’s wheelchair curlers are gearing up for a competition much closer to home.
The British Open in Hamilton gets underway on Sunday at the Lanarkshire Ice Rink – the final time the curlers will take to the ice competitively before action begins in South Korea, in March.
It is the local rink of skip Aileen Neilson, who will lead Gregor Ewan, Hugh Nibloe, Robert McPherson and Angie Malone on home ice, with the British outfit having won the competition in the last two years.
And Sochi 2014 bronze medallist Neilson is hoping an impressive showing in front of family and friends can spur them on and generate momentum as they go for glory in PyeongChang.
“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,” said Neilson.
“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, Britain’s most decorated Paralympic curler, is gearing up for her fourth Games and is chomping at the bit to take on some of the strongest sides out there.
“The competition will be fierce as always, which makes it all the more exciting!” said the double world champion, who won Paralympic silver in the mixed competition at Turin 2006 and bronze in Sochi four years ago.
“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.”
Scotland’s head wheelchair coach Sheila Swan added: “It’s a very decent line up for the 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.”