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

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

    Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry. This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Cotton club growing in Battambang

    The global market for “vegan leather” – materials that act as alternatives to traditional leather that can be synthesised from cork, apple peels, cactus, recycled plastic, grape pomace and pineapple leaves, among other things, and supposedly require no chemicals or water to produce – is expected to