Local curlers represent Canada at Wheelchair mixed doubles tournament
By Pat Payton
STIRLING, Scotland – Representing Canada and curling in July in the birthplace of the sport.
That’s what Tony Reynen, of St. Marys, got to experience recently when he and playing partner Sarah Benevides, of Courtland, competed here in the First International Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Curling Tournament, with one male and one female on each team. They represented their country in the three-day, 10-country event July 5-7.
Reynen said he applied for the opportunity to curl in Scotland when it was offered. “There were other people on the list, but I don’t know how they made their selection. I guess we were lucky.”
In addition to the Canadian pair, other teams came from Slovakia, Russia, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, England, Italy and host Scotland to compete. Finland finished first, Scotland second and Slovakia third. Reynen and Benevides placed seventh overall after playing a total of five games. The local curlers defeated teams from England and Italy, and lost to Russia, Sweden and Scotland.
“All of our games were really close,” Reynen told the Independent. “Most of these players from other countries are former and current national team curlers.” Reynen noted that he had met several of the curlers before, competing at events in places such as Ottawa, Utica, New York, and Cape Cod, Mass.
For the middle of the summer, Reynen said the ice at the PEAK Stirling Sports Village was excellent. “The ice was really good,” he reported. “They have an excellent facility there; it looks like it’s only a few years old. They leave their ice in all year round. Some of those countries do that.”
Paralympic sport in the future?
The Russian coach organized the International event in Scotland, which was planned with hopes of making Wheelchair curling a Paralympic sport in the future.
“Pictures and videos from this ‘spiel, along with the players’ comments will complete the big presentation to be shown to World Curling Federation board of directors, and then hopefully presented at the World Curling Federation Congress in September for an application to have these games in the World Cup and Paralympics,” Reynen told the newspaper.
Reynen has been curling for about 10 years now. He and Benevides belong to the London Wheelchair curling group that plays out of Ilderton. Reynen also curls in St. Marys and Benevides in Tillsonburg. Reynen and Benevides have also curled in bonspiels at the St. Marys Curling Club.
–Stirling is located just north of Edinburgh.
–Tony Reynen related an interesting story about a member of the Scottish doubles team. Aileen Neilson’s grandfather was a member of the 1959 team from Scotland that played Canada for the Scotch Cup. It was apparently the first-ever curling competition between the two countries. The event was held in Scotland and a curling team from Regina, Sask. won 5-0.
–Reynen’s wife Dawn also went on the nine-day trip to Scotland. They returned home last Thursday after four days of sight-seeing, which included visiting the Isle of Skye.
–The 2019 World Wheelchair curling championships were held in Stirling last March.