GRAEME THOMPSON TO DEPART BRITISH CURLING
Graeme Thompson will step down as Performance Director of the British Curling programme at the end of May 2019.
Thompson joined the British Curling programme in 2014 as Performance Director and has overseen the strategic and operational direction of the British and Scottish Curling programmes that now includes the men’s, women’s, mixed doubles and wheelchair disciplines.
Under his leadership the British Curling programme secured investment from UK Sport for the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles programmes for the Beijing 2022 cycle at a time of significant reductions in other winter sports programmes.
In March 2019, Scotland won a silver medal at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Stirling, narrowly losing to China, the Paralympic champions. Earlier in the season, in November, the Scotland Men’s Curling team went one better at the European Championships by winning Gold, which mirrored the Scotland women’s team’s achievement of the previous year.
Away from the Championships, this season saw the first-ever all-Scottish final at one of the prestigious Slam tournaments, the first time that has been achieved by teams from any country other than Canada, which was all the more significant given the rapid growth of the sport across the globe in recent years.
Director of British Curling, Nigel Holl said: “We would like to thank Graeme for his commitment and professionalism over the past five years. In particular, he has played a key role in establishing the ground-breaking National Curling Academy. This facility will provide a critical element to the programme’s future success.
“In this first year of the Beijing cycle, Graeme has, in conjunction with the Board, driven major changes in the programme, in particular creating a new Senior Leadership Team that will drive forward these changes in the 2022 Beijing cycle.”
Mike Whittingham, Director of High Performance at the sportscotland institute of sport where the programmes are housed, said: “Since his arrival in Scotland, Graeme Thompson has been a respected colleague within the Scottish Performance Forum, sharing his wide experience of high performance sport and contributing to our world class system. Alongside other key partners Graeme has introduced enhancements and new thinking to the system that have helped place Scotland in a very strong position on the world stage. On behalf of sportscotland I would like to thank Graeme for his contribution and wish him every success in the future.”
UK Sport Director of Performance, Chelsea Warr said: “Graeme has made a significant contribution to British Curling during his time as Performance Director. He played a key role in the development of the National Curling Academy in Stirling which means British Curling’s elite athletes now have a world leading facility that matches any other. Graeme leaves the sport in a good place as the team continues to build toward success at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Graeme Thompson said. “The programme has evolved significantly over the past five years, none more so than through the establishment of the National Curling Academy. This facility has enabled us to move the programme onto another level of professionalism.
“Of all the developments in my time, the emergence of a new raft of World level coaches who have come through from the playing or pathway coaching group has been highly satisfying. They are headed up by previous World Champion players, David Murdoch (National Coach, Curling) and Sheila Swan (Head Coach, Wheelchair Curling), while Alan Hannah has come through our pathway system to coach teams that are performing on the world stage. While there is a natural focus on players’ progress and achievements, it is just as pleasing to see coaches develop.
“My time as Performance Director has been highly rewarding and I am very confident that the programme is in a very good place to challenge strongly for medals come Beijing 2022 and further into the future. I wish all the staff and players the very best on that journey.”
A search for Graeme’s successor will begin imminently to allow for a smooth transition and handover for the Beijing 2022 cycle.