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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006, 00:27 GMT
Curlers target final medal chance
By Elizabeth Hudson

GB skip Frank Duffy
GB skip Frank Duffy gets ready to send another stone down
Wheelchair curling skip Frank Duffy believes his side can succeed where Britain's able-bodied curlers failed when they head to Turin this week.

David Murdoch and Rhona Martin's teams both left the Winter Olympics without a medal last month, but Duffy knows his team are Paralympic gold favourites.

"I know how well the team can play and we are really looking forward to going out there," he told BBC Sport.

"Hopefully we can play some good curling and win a medal."

The GB team of Duffy, Angie Malone, Tom Killin, Michael McCreadie and alternate Ken Dickson led Scotland to the defence of their World Championship glory in Glasgow at the start of last year.

WHEELCHAIR CURLING - THE RULES
Wheelchair curling differs slightly to the able-bodied game in that no sweeping is allowed.
Competitors can also choose to either release the stone conventionally or, more usually, use a special cue, which is attached to the stone's handle.
Guidance comes from the skipper, who sits at the other end of the rink offering tips and encouragement.
The team must include at least one woman

And for Duffy, who began his curling career on a frozen pond in Falkland in Fife aged 12 before an industrial accident when he was 35 left him a paraplegic, triumphing at world level was a special moment.

"It meant a lot to win a world title on home soil," he said. "The team upped their game superbly in the semi-final against Switzerland and the final against Denmark.

"I don't feel there is more pressure on us in Turin even though we are the world champions.

"Winning gold in Turin would be a fantastic achievement, especially as it is the first time curling has been included in a Winter Paralympics and also as Great Britain has never won gold at a winter games.

"If we could come back with gold, we know it would mean a lot for the sport. At the moment, wheelchair curling is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and medals would mean more interest."

WHEELCHAIR CURLING SCHEDULE
12 March: GB v Switzerland; GB v Denmark
13 March: GB v Norway; GB v Canada
14 March: GB v Italy; GB v Canada
15 March: GB v USA
17 March: Semi-finals
18 March: Final

Team-mate Angie Malone, who has already won two world championships since taking up the game three years ago, is hoping that the long training hours pay dividends in Turin.

Based in South Ayrshire, it is over a three-hour round trip to attend training at least three or four times per week.

"We've trained very hard and we want to go out there and get that gold medal," she said. "As world champions there are high expectations. We've had a lot of support from the Scottish Institute of Sport and we feel we can go out and bring back a medal.

"I play lead so I send down the first two stones to set up the game for the rest of the team and on the ice one of my responsibilities is to hold the other team members chairs while they are delivering their stones so they don't move."

The positive note is shared by coach Tom Pendreigh, who only took over the post last year, who says his side have done everything they could have done to prepare for Turin.

"All I'm asking the athletes is to go out and produce a medal-winning performance," he said.

"The team are very close-knit and I think that is the key element of their success. We've built on that over the past year and had great support where we have been able to bring in new sciences.

"Our biggest rivals are likely to be Sweden and Denmark but Switzerland, Canada and the USA, who have a new-look team, are also going to be tough."

"At the end of the day it depends on how each individual game goes but we're happy with the preparation we have done."




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