GB claim first victory in Wheelchair Curling on Day Two at the Paralympics
on 09-03-2014 10:11
The ParalympicsGB Wheelchair Curling team secured their first win of the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games in the first match of the day (Sunday March 9), in a tense game which went right down to the final stone.
The GB team faced a tough morning match against an experienced Sweden side, who are double Paralympic bronze medallists and 2013 World Championship silver medallists.
ParalympicsGB started positively, taking the first end by one point and defended well in the second, at the conclusion of which Sweden made a tactical decision to blank the end and keep the ‘hammer’, or final stone for them, for the next end.
Again in the third end ParalympicsGB defended strongly, ensuring Sweden could only level the match 1-1 and in the fourth GB re-took the lead 2-1.
In the fifth end the Swedes took the advantage to take three points and lead the scoring at 2-4. The GB curlers responded positively in the sixth, as skip Aileen Neilson cast the final stone to claim two points for ParalympicsGB and level the score once more.
In the penultimate end, GB edged slightly closer to the button with their last stone to claim one point, edging into the lead with the score at 5-4 in their favour.
With little separating the teams, end 8 was tense for the British supporters gathered in the Ice Cube Curling Centre as the Swedish team had possession of the hammer. After Sweden confidently placed two stones in the house, GB took the opportunity of a time out to discuss their tactics. With her final stone, Neilson made a Draw against the two Swedish stones to force a steal in the last end. Jalle Jungnell, the Swedish skip, missed the Takeout on his last stone, securing victory to the GB curlers.
After the match, Neilson said: “Throughout the game it wasn’t my best performance and I knew at some point I had to make a shot. I’m just delighted that with the last shot I put it in a place where Jalle (Swedish skip) had to go for it. He was put under pressure and the result went in our favour which is a good feeling for us.
“I was very pleased with the way we started but again we just had to dig deep. Half way through we were pretty even, and then when we had lost three it was very much about not panicking and just staying focussed."
"Coming out with a win is just a real confidence boost for us and it will help us this afternoon when we face Korea.”
The Ice Cube Curling Centre hosted an enthusiastic crowd of home supporters, but Gregor Ewan said this didn’t affect his focus: “It’s the first time I’ve ever played in such a loud atmosphere and I’m enjoying it. It’s good to see the crowds out there supporting us.”
“We’ve just got to go out, play against Korea, get through the round robin and see where we end up. I’d be lying if I say there wasn’t extra pressure. There’s definitely a wee bit more pressure but I’ve got things in place to cope with it.”
Also this morning, former serviceman Mick Brennan took to the hill to make his Paralympic Games debut in the men’s Super G.
Brennan put in an outstanding performance to secure a fantastic 10th place with a time of 1:30.48.
The result was particularly strong given he faced a tough course and difficult conditions on the snow, setting off 75th out of 77 competitors in the field.
"Top ten here is a great platform for the rest of my events. I'm so proud to be British today."
"When I was on the hill, I was totally focussed and determined on the game plan.
"Top ten for me feels as good as a medal right now. I'm looking forward now to getting on with my next events."
A delighted Head Coach Tony McAllister said: "I'm over the moon. He stuck to our plan, both tactically and technically, and it was a really intelligent performance. To sit and watch so many skiers go down and make mistakes and get punished for it, but still go out and execute is fantastic.
"To get top ten here is outstanding, I'm so pleased for him."
The winner of the men's sitting event was Akiro Kano from Japan in 1:19.51.
The Wheelchair Curling team face Korea at 15:30 local time.