More than 50 people with learning disabilities took part in the Special Olympics GB’s National New Age Kurling Competition recently.
The event took place on Sunday, October 27 at Featherstone Sports Centre in Pontefract, West Yorkshire.
New age kurling (spelt with a ‘k’) is similar to the winter Olympic sport of ice curling. Players aim to place their stones closest to the centre of a target, but new age kurling is played on any smooth floor and the stones run on ball bearing ‘wheels’.
The number of people competing was more than double that of 2012 and the competition welcomed, for the first time, athletes from the Northwest and West Midlands regions.
Special guests at the event were Cliff and Wendy Woolass. Cliff, who is chair of the Great Britain Kurling Association and two-times Kurling World Champion, officially opened the competition and provided support throughout the day as chief umpire.
Athletes competed in individual, pairs or team events. In addition, they competed in two levels: level 1 athletes played with signed or spoken support from their coach and those at level 2 competed independently.
“Fantastic team spirit and camaraderie was evident,” said Steve Peace, Special Olympics GB’s national new age kurling technical advisor. “All of the Special Olympics athletes demonstrated great drive and determination throughout the competition.”
The event was supported by members of the Pontefract, Castleford, Normanton and Featherstone Lions Clubs and the Pontefract Lioness Club who helped with umpiring, serving refreshments and awarding medals. Parents and volunteers from Able2 Pontefract organised and ran the event.
Gaye Barber, national volunteer manager for Special Olympics GB, added: “This was my first experience of seeing new age kurling at competition level and I came away with a much better understanding of the rules and different levels to achieve meaningful competition for all abilities.”