The British Paralympic Association (BPA) today announced the first four athletes who have been selected to represent ParalympicsGB at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
The selected athletes who are selected for Wheelchair Curling are Gregor Ewan (Elgin, Morayshire), Tom Killin (Edinburgh), Aileen Neilson (Strathaven) and Bob McPherson (Bellshill).
Great Britain won silver in Wheelchair Curling at the 2006 Paralympic Games in Turin. The team, which competes as Team Scotland at World Championship level, has produced strong performances at international competitions between the last Games in Vancouver, including silver at the 2011 World Championships.
Tom Killin is the most experienced athlete on the team, having previously represented Great Britain at the 1980 and 1984 Paralympic Games. He will make his third appearance in Wheelchair Curling for ParalympicsGB in Sochi, having already competed in that sport at both Vancouver 2010 and Turin 2006, where the team won silver.
Commenting on his selection, Killin said: “I am over the moon to be selected for Sochi 2014. This will be my fifth Paralympics and I am as excited today as I was on my first selection [to compete in Wheelchair Fencing] for Arnhem 1980.”
Aileen Neilson joins Killin in the line-up and makes her second appearance for ParalympicsGB after making her debut at the 2010 Vancouver games, where the team finished in sixth place.
Speaking of her selection, Neilson said: “Competing at a Paralympic Games is the pinnacle of any athlete’s career, and I’m so pleased to be representing ParalympicsGB for the second time in Sochi. It is a real honour to be named as Skip for the team, and I’m really looking forward to the next few months as we make our final preparations for the Games.”
Gregor Ewan and Bob McPherson are set to make their Paralympic debut. Both players have established good team-work with Killin and Neilson, having competed as part of Team Scotland at the 2013 World Championships in February this year. The quartet will benefit from their experience on the ice at those World Championships, which were also held in Sochi.
Tony Zummack, Head Coach of the Wheelchair Curling team, was delighted to name the first British athletes to compete at Sochi 2014, saying: “Aileen, Gregor, Robert and Tom have shown an ability to be an efficient team on ice and I look forward to giving them the opportunity to continue to develop their team identity and work closely with each other over the coming months.
“We will continue to practice with purpose and thanks to the support of British Curling’s partners at UK Sport, Sportscotland, Royal Caledonian Curling Club and the British Paralympic Association we will be best prepared to compete with the other nations at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi. I feel very confident in their ability, desire and commitment.”
Penny Briscoe, Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB at Sochi 2014, was thrilled with the news. “With just over six months to go until competition gets under way, it is very exciting to announce the first athletes who will represent ParalympicsGB at Sochi 2014. I’d like to congratulate the athletes on their selection and recognise the hard work and the commitment to their sport which they have demonstrated. This work will continue over the coming months, as we support the team to ensure they are best prepared to compete against an increasingly competitive field at Sochi 2014.”
Further team announcements for Sochi 2014 will be made over the coming months, with Alpine Skiing and Ice Sledge Hockey still in the final stages of qualification.
The announcement was made in Glasgow, alongside the first athletes selected to represent Team GB at the 2014 Olympic Games.
About the Paralympic Winter team
There are four winter sports: Wheelchair Curling, Alpine Skiing, Nordic Skiing and Ice Sledge Hockey. Of these, Britain has international teams in all except Nordic Skiing.
ParalympicsGB at the Vancouver 2012 Winter Paralympic Games consisted of 12 athletes from two sports.
A further two sports are in the closing stages of qualification: Alpine Skiing and Ice Sledge Hockey. Based on how the teams get on in qualification, further team announcements for the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi will be made over the coming months.
Find out more about ParalympicsGB at www.paralympics.org.uk