About Wheelchair Curling
Wheelchair curling is adjusted to athletes who have a disability involving their lower limbs. Just like regular curling, wheelchair curling is regulated by the World Curling Federation which also determines the rules and organises national and international competitions. Wheelchair curling began to be played in Europe in the 1990s.
How Wheelchair Curling Is Played
Wheelchair curling is played on the same curling sheet and involves the use of the same curling stones as in regular curling. But unlike in the latter, athletes in wheelchair throw stones from a stationary position from their wheelchair. Also, there is no sweeping in wheelchair curling. The stones are thrown either by hand from the side of the wheelchair but the athlete can also push the stone by a special stick. The latter is known as delivery stick or curler’s cue, and is also designed to allow application of correct rotation when pushing the stone. Since wheelchair curling doesn’t involve sweeping, it is suitable for two-person competition.
Who Can Compete in Wheelchair Curling
According to the Rules of the World Curling Federation, wheelchair curling can be competed by athletes with a variety of disabilities. The only requirements for wheelchair curling include cold tolerance and enough push force and co-ordination to throw the curling stone. Eligibility for major tournaments, however, is limited to athletes with disabilities affecting lower limb motion, more specifically require the use of a wheelchair or prevent the person from walking to longer distances. Since 2010, electric wheelchairs are allowed at national and international competitions that are sanctioned by the World Curling Federation.
National and International Wheelchair Curling Competitions
National and international wheelchair curling competitions are played according to the rules of the World Curling Federation. These determine that the teams must be of mixed gender and the games to have eight ends.
The most important wheelchair curling competition is the World Wheelchair Curling Championships that is held annually with the exception of the Paralympic years. The first World Wheelchair Curling Championships took place in Sursee, Switzerland, in 2002, while the host team became the first champion by winning over Canada. The most successful nation in the World Wheelchair Curling Championships to date is Scotland with two gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
Wheelchair Curling at the Paralympics
Wheelchair curling officially became a Paralympic sport in 2006 and was first played at the 2006 Winter Paralympic Games in Torino, Italy. The gold medal was won by Canada which repeated the success at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics. Great Britain has one silver medal from the 2006 Torino Winter Paralympics.