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A sterling performance at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships earned silver for hosts Scotland after a hard fought final against reigning Paralympic Champions China. 

The Chinese had been the top qualifiers from the round robin stages of the tournament, which was being held in Scotland – at the Peak in Stirling - for the first time since 2005 and claimed a narrow lead early on in the decider, when they registered a single at the 2nd end then followed that up with a steal at the next. Despite a few opportunities for the hosts, the rink skipped by Wang Haitao established a 5-2 lead going into the last of the eight ends, where they were able to run the Scots out of stones to lift their first world title.

For home skip Aileen Neilson and her team mates David Melrose, Robert McPherson, Hugh Nibloe and alternate Gary Logan, who have been supported by the British Curling programme, it was an impressive finish after an inauspicious start to the week which had seen them lose their first two matches. It was also an improvement on their result when they won bronze back in 2017, after they had battled back from having been relegated to the World B Championships on their second attempt, though Neilson had hoped for the one colour missing from her world championship medal collection.

Competing in her ninth world championships, she said after claiming her second silver medal at the event: “We had really high hopes ahead of this final of coming away with that gold medal. However after our start to the week if I had been offered a silver medal I would have been happy with that. Obviously finishing on a loss isn’t easy, but getting on the podium on home ice in front of all our supporters is fantastic.

“If there had been key shots made, when I had a chance for a two or if I had put a better guard on at the seventh it might have been different, we had chances, however we did make it a close final,” she said.

“They were worthy winners and they were probably the best team here this week, however we became more consistent as the week progressed and we did manage to make sure we were peaking in our performances at the end of the tournament.

“Overall, to have that gold medal experience and to have my second silver at a world champs and this time on home ice with lots of Scottish supporters, it doesn’t get much better than that. This silver medal is all the more special because of that and it is something that I will never forget.”

British Curling Head Wheelchair Coach Sheila Swan said: “It is a game of small margins and we maybe weren’t as sharp as we were in our last few games. China didn’t give us many chances and when we did get them, we didn’t quite manage to capitalise on them. The shot their skip made at the 7th, when he feathered past the guard to make his two, that epitomised how tight that game was.

“They were the form team this week and reigning Paralympic Champions and a team we don’t see on tour much, so difficult to judge how they are playing. But you know coming into this week that you are playing the best eleven teams in the world and you have to expect tough games. There is a tinge of disappointment, but overall it is great to have won silver and we just have to build on this week and come back and get that illustrious gold medal next time,” Swan added. 

In the bronze medal game, Korea beat defending World Champions Norway 10-3 to take their place on the podium in Stirling.

Results after the round robin: 7W 4L

Scotland v Switzerland 4-5
Scotland v Latvia 7-8
Scotland v Germany 9-7 (EE)
Scotland v Norway 7-4
Scotland v Korea 7-6
Scotland v China 3-7
Scotland v USA 7-6
Scotland v Slovakia 5-9
Scotland v Russia 5-4
Scotland v Estonia 9-3
Scotland v Canada 5-3

Play-off result:
Scotland v Slovakia 7-6 (EE)

Semi final result:
Scotland v Norway 7-3

Bronze medal match:
Norway v Korea 3-10

Gold medal match:
Scotland v China 2-5

Aileen Neilson (skip) – 47yrs, born East Kilbride, lives Strathaven
David Melrose – 52yrs, born Haddington, lives Duns
Robert McPherson – 50yrs, born Motherwell, lives Bellshill
Hugh Nibloe – 37yrs, born Stranraer, lives Stranraer
Gary Logan – 47yrs, born Berwick-upon-Tweed, lives Cornhil on Tweed, Northumberland

Pics: WCF / Tom Rowland

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