Winter Paralympics: Neilson to fly curling flag

Aileen Neilson is skip of Britain's all-Scottish curling team who start their Winter Paralympic campaign tomorrow. Picture: Getty

Aileen Neilson is skip of Britain's all-Scottish curling team who start their Winter Paralympic campaign tomorrow. Picture: Getty

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SCOTLAND have contributed to a flurry of major curling medals over the past month – but Aileen Neilson isn’t thinking about precious metals, nor keeping the run going, as attention now turns to her.

It has been a fine past three weeks for curling in Scotland as skips David Murdoch and Eve Muirhead captured the public’s imagination with silver and bronze respectively at the Winter Olympics.

Then skip Kyle Smith collected silver at the Junior World Championships after a narrow final defeat to Switzerland.

The baton now transfers to Neilson, skip of Britain’s all-Scottish wheelchair curling rink, as she prepares to get her second Winter Paralympic campaign underway tomorrow morning.

Much like Murdoch, Muirhead and Smith before her, Neilson must tackle a nine-game round-robin stage before the medals are awarded a week later at the Ice Cube Curling Centre in Sochi.

And it is those nine games that Neilson is concentrating on first in Russia, she’s not prepared to let three major global international medals in the space of three weeks cloud her judgment.

“Obviously our first aim is to make the play-offs, so we have a nine-game round robin and we have to focus on that,” said Neilson.

“If we win enough games in that, we will make the play-offs and we can go from there. But our first goal is to get through to the play-offs.

“This is my second Paralympics. At your first you don’t really know what it is going to be like until you are there and, having been to a couple of World Championships, the Paralympics is very different.

“Every time I put on the GB kit it’s very special. One of the big differences from worlds to Paralympics is the life in the athletes’ village. It’s going to be another great experience.

“We’re not only part of our team but we’re part of Paralympics GB alongside the alpine skiers, so it’s great to know that we are part of a big team that’s in Sochi to do its best.”

Neilson is the first female athlete to skip a mixed team at a World Championships and is one of two on the British curling team to have previous Games experience.

Britain have never won Winter Paralympic gold but are tasked with a target of 
between two and six medals in Sochi from both the disability alpine ski and wheelchair curling teams.

Rachael Ferrier, who is the only Scot on the alpine ski team, will be aiming for the podium.

Also competing in the skiing is visually impaired Millie Knight who, at 15 will, become Britain’s youngest ever Winter Paralympian.

l Sainsbury’s is a proud long-term supporter of the British Paralympic Association and a champion of inclusive sport for all. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit: Sainsburys.co.uk/activekids

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