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Aspiring curlers revelled in a day to remember as Winter Paralympic Games medallist Aileen Neilson treated them to a special taster session in Edinburgh.
As part of Parasport’s Tokyo 2020 Games-time activation, inclusive taster sessions were hosted at Parasport clubs around the country to celebrate clubs and volunteers, reduce isolation for disability sport through participation, and focus on wellbeing following the challenges created by Covid.
Wheelchair curling star Neilson, 50, bagged mixed competition bronze at Sochi 2014 and was on hand to inspire the next generation of talent on ice at state-of-the-art facility Curl Edinburgh.
And the East Kilbride ace, also a three-time World Championship medallist, said: “I think it’s essential that people are aware how inclusive curling is.
“It’s for all ages, all abilities, anybody can try it, and it’s just a great sport.
“It’s also a great social sport, so you meet lots of new people, make lots of new friends, and it’s great that you can be integrated with non-disabled clubs or play wheelchair curling.
“I think today we were trying to highlight how inclusive curling is – everyone can try it, and it’s been an excellent opportunity for everyone to sign up, come along and try this great sport.
“It seems a while ago, but I remember my first session – I think if I can do it, then anyone can.”
One of those taking to the ice for the first time was Jo Parker, from Edinburgh, who was so impressed that she decided to sign up to a curling club as soon as her session finished.
The 51-year-old said: “I absolutely loved it.
“It’s a sport I’ve always followed – I didn’t realise there are such opportunities for disabled people, so I was really happy to find out I did have the chance to take part.
“Aileen’s an absolute legend, so it’s been an absolute privilege to get a one-on-one coaching session with her.
“It’s a lot harder than it looks when you’re watching it on TV – but I like to give everything a try. If you don’t try, you might not know if you’re fantastic at something, so give it a go!”
Development Manager for Scottish Curling Catriona Morton, from East Lothian, also outlined the crucial benefits of Parasport’s Tokyo 2020 Games-time activation, adding: “It’s so beneficial because they get to see people that are like them.
“Curling is such an exciting sport to watch and try – at the beginning, it may be a bit difficult, but once you get comfortable on the ice, it’s a really exciting sport to take part in.
“The more the merrier, and our rinks across the country are ready to welcome anyone of any age or ability.”
Parasport powered by Toyota have been hosting inclusive taster sessions at Parasport clubs around the country, to highlight their stories and celebrate their members and volunteers contribution to inclusive sport in the community. For more information please visit www.parasport.org.uk