Wheelchair curler Nibloe's excitement building ahead of Winter Paralympics

·3-min read
Wheelchair curler Nibloe's excitement building ahead of Winter Paralympics

Wheelchair curling ace Hugh Nibloe says there’s a serious sense of excitement building for the Winter Paralympic Games – with Beijing 2022 exactly 50 days away.

Nibloe, 40, travelled to Sochi 2014 and watched ParalympicsGB claim a historic bronze medal before making his Paralympic debut in PyeongChang four years ago.

The Stranraer native’s past experiences at those Games, as well as recent experience of competing in the Chinese capital, is adding to the sense of anticipation as a third showpiece in March moves ever closer.

“I definitely can’t wait to keep counting the days down,” said Nibloe, who is one of over 1,000 who are able to train full-time, access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding.

“It is just 50 days now. I’m just incredibly excited. It’s what we’ve been waiting for in the four years to get to the Paralympics, and that opportunity is not that far away now.

“Compared to a World Championships there were a lot of other sports going on and when you get off the ice you were always looking to see how somebody did in the skiing, how somebody did in the snowboarding.

“That team atmosphere was just brilliant. To wear the Union Jack, it just feels so good and it’s great, it’s just so much fun.

“Our World Championships were there in October so we’ve got a really good insight as to what it’s going to be like. We know that between the Chinese authorities and the BPA we’re going to be well looked after.

“It will still be a huge event – and brilliant at the end.”

Nibloe was part of the squad that finished seventh four years ago in Korea, with the Scottish star pointing to a disappointing second half of the event as to why they failed to progress further.

However, after a bronze and silver medal at the past two World Championships, the possibility of a Paralympic medal is one he is acutely aware of.

That would add to the 1,000-plus medals achieved by British athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding to elite sport in 1997 and Nibloe said: “We always have small targets. We never want to look too far ahead.

“It’s always about trying to get that first win under our belt and building on it. Getting into that top four is probably the first target.

“It’s what I’ve been dreaming of since I’ve been involved in the sport, to be a Paralympic medallist. We’ve got Gregor [Ewan] in the team who won Paralympic bronze in Sochi. I know how important and how big it is for him.

“Since then we’ve won bronze and silver medals at World Championships but that Paralympic medal just tops it all. Getting that medal would be a career highlight I’d say.

“We know there’s probably six or seven teams in the same boat as us thinking they can medal, so we know that it’s going to be the teams who perform on ice the whole week who are there at the end of the week.

“I’m confident that we can be there and we can do it.”

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes

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