Wheelchair curling is a team sport played on ice with similar rules to its Olympic counterpart.
After missing out on the podium at Vancouver 2010, the ParalympicsGB wheelchair curling team were able to bounce back in style at Sochi 2014 claiming a bronze medal – Great Britain’s second Paralympic medal in the sport after securing silver at Turin 2006.
Each team must include male and female players and a female athlete must be on the ice at all times. The team is made up of four players and a qualified alternate may be brought into play at the beginning of an end to substitute one of their teammates.
A team declares its delivery rotation, and the skip and vice-skip positions, prior to the start of a game and maintains that rotation and those positions throughout that game.
The object of the sport is to slide stones with handles across the ice, aiming for them to come to a stop on a target, called the house, which is marked by four concentric circles. The Lead delivers the first stone and the play continues with each athlete delivering two stones, alternating with the opposing team. Placing the stone inside the house means earning a possible point.
Two teams take turns to deliver stones down the ice attempting to get closer to the centre of the target or ‘house’ than their opponents. The team that places the most stones closest to the centre of the house wins the point.
The stones made for curling are made of smooth granite and must conform to very precise parameters: a circumference of 91.44cm and a height of not less than 11.43cm. The weight including the handle must not exceed 19.96kgs. Delivery of the stone may be undertaken by the conventional arm/hand release or by the use of an extender cue.
The sport is governed by the rules of the World Curling Federation (WCF) with one major modification for wheelchair curling – no sweeping is permitted.
Each game is played over eight ends with an extra end played should the teams be tied.
First year at a Paralympic Games
The first World Wheelchair Curling Championship was held in January 2002 and, in March that year, the International Paralympic Committee granted official medal status to wheelchair curling for mixed gender teams.
Come on Aileen: Neilson celebrates at Sochi 2014
From Sochi to PyeongChang
In 2014 the ParalympicsGB team, comprising of skip Aileen Neilson, Gregor Ewan, Bob McPherson, Jim Gault and Angie Malone MBE, finished 4th at the end of the round robin matches, having won five and lost four.
A semi-final defeat to Russia meant Britain met China in the bronze medal game where they triumphed 7-3.
Following Sochi 2014 the Scottish team suffered a disappointing defeat to Germany in their relegation play-off at the 2015 World Championships in Finland. They subsequently gained promotion back into the top flight of competition, securing 2017 World Championship qualification and a spot at PyeongChang 2018.
At the 2017 World Championships, in the Gangneung Curling Centre which will host them at the PyeongChang Games, the Scottish team won bronze with a 9-5 victory over China.
Scotland has historically been strong in wheelchair curling: the team were world champions in 2004 and 2005, and secured world silver in 2011 as well as bronze medals in 2002, 2007 and 2017.
Sochi medal table:
- Great Britain
The sport is open to male and female athletes who have a physical impairment in the lower half of their body in the lower half of their body, including spinal-cord injuries, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and double-leg amputation. Athletes usually require a wheelchair for daily mobility.
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