BRITISH CURLING ANNOUNCES PROGRAMME CURLING COACHES FOR BEIJING OLYMPIAD

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British Curling has bolstered its management team with the recruitment of three highly regarded home-grown coaches.

Alan Hannah, David Aitken and Greg Drummond have all been previously involved with the British Curling elite programme and now move into key front line roles as full time performance coaches, alongside Nancy Smith and Ian Tetley providing world class expertise across the programme.

Alan Hannah has already had exceptional success as coach to Team Mouat, with back to back Scottish title wins, a Grand Slam title in Canada and victory in last year’s European Curling Championships, ending Team Edin’s long reign as champions on what was the Scottish team’s debut appearance. In addition to the numerous Tour titles they have accumulated over the last two seasons, Hannah also prepared Mouat’s quartet for their first World Championship appearance In Las Vegas where they won bronze.

In his new role, Hannah will continue coaching the team, which is ranked in the top ten in the world, as well as working collaboratively with all of the coaches in developing and delivering a world class coaching programme in the build up to the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games and beyond.

“It is a great privilege to have been appointed a full time performance coach to the British Curling programme. I am fortunate to have been able to move my passion for coaching from a hobby into a career,” said Hannah.

“It is exciting times for the newly formed coaching team and I look forward to working together with all of the other coaches and support staff as we collectively push forward to create a world class, coach led and athlete centred performance programme.

“I am especially looking forward to continuing the fantastic journey with Team Mouat, with our first objective to defend the excellent European title won last season. The fantastic opportunities keep coming as we strive towards representing Scotland at the World Championships in Glasgow in March 2020, something we all want to be part of.”

Olympic silver medallist Greg Drummond is one of the first full time athletes to have entered the coaching ranks, after completing a highly successful playing career, whilst graduating with a degree in Business and Enterprise in Sport from Edinburgh Napier University. The World and European medallist moved into a coaching role with the programme last season working with the newest Olympic discipline, mixed doubles and a squad which saw two teams qualify for the World Mixed Doubles Championships, both of whom reached the knock-out stages and qualified places for next year’s event. He also coached the GB men’s team to bronze at the World University Games in Russia earlier this year. Drummond will utilise his range of expertise and experience as a key member of the programme and among his many duties in his new full time role, he will working with mixed doubles pair Team Aitken/Andrews for the 2019-20 season.

“I am delighted to be able to continue working with the high performance programme,” said Drummond.

“Together with the wider coaching team, we have an opportunity to not only contribute to the successes of our current athletes, but also to ensure that our future athletes have a programme that they aspire to be part of.

“Working with Team Aitken/Andrews for the season ahead is an exciting project as they look to build on an impressive first season together.”

David Aitken also has experience of working with the programme and the elite sporting landscape. As a technical and team coach in his spare time for the past ten years, he has worked with junior men and women, ladies, mixed doubles and seniors at national and international level and coached Scottish teams at nine World Championships.

Off the ice, Aitken has a proven track record in the software industry, having co-founded a successful company before working as a Project and Product Manager for an identity management specialist software company. His understanding of the sport combined with his business acumen and commercial experience means he brings of a wealth of skills to the coaching team, as they develop British Curling’s ‘What It Takes To Win’ model.

“As a passionate lifelong curler and coach, I am relishing this opportunity to work in a full time coaching role and contributing to the success of Scottish and GB teams,” said Aitken, who will be coaching national champions Team Jackson for the 2019-20 season.

National Coach David Murdoch, who oversees the programme’s coaching team said: ‘We now have a full coaching cohort and this will be immensely valuable to be able to plan and deliver detailed weekly training alongside in-competition coaching. It will be instrumental in allowing the athletes to maximise their potential and development both on and off the ice. 

“All three of our appointments are able to hit the ground running in their new roles due to their familiarity with the programme and background in the sport. Given that by the end of this season we will be more than halfway through the Beijing Olympic cycle, this is vital as we aim to ensure that our curlers are the best prepared they can be for the 2022 Winter Olympics and also future Olympiads.

“Expanding our coaching team to work with all our programme athletes at our National Curling Academy represents an exciting time for our sport, when we are also looking forward to contesting the LGT World Men’s Curling Championships on home ice at the Emirates Arena this season.”

Murdoch believes that with new and existing personnel the programme now boasts a vast range of expertise and complementary strengths.

Nancy Smith, who has worked with the programme since 2012 and has been instrumental to the success of many Scottish curlers across the five Olympic cycles she has been involved in, will be working with the top ranked women’s rink, Team Muirhead for the coming season.

Smith has previously worked with all four of the athletes and was Team GB’s Olympic women’s coach when Eve Muirhead made her debut at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010, the same year that she coached Muirhead’s team to silver at the World Championships. 

Smith said: “It is always a huge honour to work with our programme athletes as they seek to achieve their goals and it is highly satisfying to be part of a team’s journey, helping them to realise their full potential. It is with great pride that I will be coaching this combination of players I have worked with at different stages over the last decade and in the coming season we will be targeting competing with the best and being the best in the world.

“We are acutely aware of how precious our National Curling Academy is and to have world class expertise and support staff within that facility, means we have everything at our fingertips and it is about utilising that to our best advantage as we prepare to compete on the world stage,” she added.

Completing the programme’s impressive coaching line up is three time World Champion Ian Tetley. The coach who hails from Ontario, one of Canada’s hotbeds of world class curling, is delighted to be working with Team Paterson for a second year, after steering them to a Grand Slam title in their first season together.

“I am thrilled to be affiliated with both Team Paterson and the British Curling programme,” he said.

“Having previously coached David Murdoch’s team in 2016 and 2017, it is great to be now working alongside him in the programme. David is a tremendous leader with a constant vision of development and success.

“Ross Paterson quickly won me over as a believer in his ability to make big shots under enormous pressure. He, along with his team mates, have the perfect work ethic and thirst to be the best. That combined with my feisty, red/grey headed attitude and perfectionist standards makes for a great partnership and bid to be world number one. 

“The boys have shown they have the moxy and character to play in the upper echelons of international curling, but we cannot rest on our laurels and must continue to prove ourselves each and every day.

“The British programme continues to prove that their model works. With three teams in the top 16 in the world and a couple more knocking at the door, it shows that men’s curling in Scotland is in good hands.”

The high performance coaches will be working with the following programme teams for 2019-20.

Team Mouat – Alan Hannah
Bruce Mouat
Grant Hardie
Bobby Lammie
Hammy McMillan

Team Paterson – Ian Tetley
Ross Paterson
Kyle Waddell
Duncan Menzies
Michael Goodfellow

Team Muirhead – Nancy Smith
Eve Muirhead
Lauren Gray
Jen Dodds
Vicky Wright

Team Jackson – David Aitken
Sophie Jackson
Naomi Brown
Mili Smith
Sophie Sinclair

Team Aitken/Andrews – Greg Drummond
Gina Aitken
Scott Andrews

Photos: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart. 

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