Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Wheelchair curling sets Pyeongchang pulses racing




Wheelchair curling sets Pyeongchang pulses racing

Chinese and South Korean wheelchair curlers compete at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympic Games on Thursday. AFP
Chinese and South Korean wheelchair curlers compete at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympic Games on Thursday. AFP

Wheelchair curling sets Pyeongchang pulses racing

It’s probably the slowest sport at the Winter Paralympics, but curling has proved an unlikely hit, with spectators flocking to watch wheelchair-bound athletes skilfully slide stones over a sheet of ice.

The popularity of the niche sport has exploded in South Korea since February’s Olympics when their women’s side, nicknamed the “Garlic Girls”, had a fairytale run and won a silver medal.

Curling’s new-found fame has spilled over to this month’s Paralympics in Pyeongchang, where 12 mixed teams, consisting of male and female athletes with leg impairments, have competed.

The rules are similar to able-bodied curling. Athletes slide stones over the ice, and whoever gets them closest to the centre of a target at the end of each round can pick up points.

There is one key difference in the Paralympic version, however – there is no sweeping, where athletes use a broom to vigorously rub the ice in front of a sliding stone to better direct it.

More than 54,000 tickets were sold for the wheelchair curling at the Games, while Mr T – who tweeted about his love of the sport during the Olympics – has swung back into action, urging his followers to watch it at the Paralympics.

Only para-ice hockey, a fast and furious sport that sees athletes competing in double-bladed sledges, has been more popular at the Pyeongchang Games.

“It’s a very entertaining game,” said Canadian wheelchair curler Ina Forrest, who lost the use of her legs aged 21 after a traffic accident.

“I think there’s been a huge increase in the calibre of wheelchair curling.”

‘Wheelchair curling, more cooler!’

The Gangneung Curling Centre was packed out Saturday for the final two matches of the Paralympics, with spectators waving flags and banners, and roaring with excitement every time a stone slid into the target.

China defeated Norway 6-5 in a nailbiting final to win gold, while Canada beat South Korea 5-3 in the bronze medal game, leaving the hosts in fourth place.

The crowd was particularly boisterous during South Korea’s match, cheering loudly every time their side was doing well, and performing Mexican waves.

The South Koreans’ good performance has helped to bolster crowd sizes, with more home fans coming to watch.

“The team got good results, making people even more interested in the game,” said coach Beak Jong-chul.

As well as a lot of spectators, wheelchair curling attracts by far the most ageing athletes of any sport at the Paralympics, with a good number of competitors over 50.

The oldest athlete in Pyeongchang competed in wheelchair curling – Germany’s Harry Pavel, aged 67.

And Canada’s team included a mother of four and grandmother of 10 – Marie Wright, 57.

Curling-mad Mr T, who made his name playing big-hearted toughman BA Baracus in 1980s TV hit The A-Team, has seemed even more enamoured of wheelchair curing than of the able-bodied version.

“I said it before and I’ll say it again . . . curling is cool fool! But wheelchair curling, more cooler!” tweeted the star, known for his gold chains and mohawk haircut.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • Koh Preus upgrades 70% complete

    Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer. Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he