Local Team Wins British Open at Hamilton
The British Open Wheelchair Championship which was played at Lanarkshire Ice Rink from Sunday 11th to Tuesday 13th November was for the first time an international affair. Two teams from Russian, including Andrey Smirnov and his reigning World Curling Championship team, along with Billy Bell from Wales, Stephen McGarry from England, and National Squad teams skipped by Aileen Neilson and Gregor Ewan were among the12 team field.
After the round robin Aileen Neilson, with Tom Killin, Robert McPherson and Angie Malone topped her section, and Andrey Smirnov in second place qualified for the semi finals. In the other section Gregor Ewan with Jim Gault, Ian Donaldson and Gill Keith finished top, and Paul Webster with Gordon Rainey, John Doyle, playing in his first ever championship, and Angela Higson went through to the semi finals. Bill Masterton had also played for the Webster team in early rounds.
The semi final game between Team Neilson and Team Webster saw Webster take control from the start winning the first three ends and picking up 4 shots at the 5th to go 8-1 ahead, too far for Team Neilson thus giving Team Webster a place in the final. The game between Gregor Ewan and Andrey Smirnov was a close contest but despite Ewan being two shots ahead going into the last end, he lost a three to give Smirnov the other final spot.
In the final Team Webster lost 3 at the first end but recovered by taking singles at the next two ends. Smirnov took singles at the 4th and 5th ends for a 5-2 lead. However, undaunted Team Webster evened the score at the 7th end. Going into the last end without last stone was nail-biting for the supporters behind the glass. With his last stone of the Championship, Andrey Smirnov chose an angled raised takeout but missed to give the game and the British Open Championship to Team Webster, a fantastic win for the South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club team.
In the 3rd/4th playoff game between the National Squad teams, the game went Gregor Ewan’s way for a comfortable win over Aileen Neilson.
At the Prizegiving SWCA Vice Chair Rosemary Lenton thanked Lockhart Steel and his ice staff, the catering staff, umpires Robin Shand and Robin Turner, and the on ice helpers who all made the event run smoothly. Lockhart presented the Kate Caithness Trophy to Paul Webster who added his thanks all those involved in running the event.