A Winning Start

**After an action-packed start to the first day of competition at PyeongChang 2018 it fell to ParalympicsGB’s wheelchair curlers to bring the curtain down – and they didn’t disappoint. **

An opening clash with the world champions would be enough to make even the strongest athletes flinch but, led by skip Aileen Neilson, the ParalympicsGB team of Gregor Ewan, Hugh Nibloe and Bob McPherson held their nerve to dispatch Norway 5-2.

It began as a cagey affair with nothing between the two sides after three ends but Neilson and co edged ahead in the fourth and opened up a 3-1 lead.

That advantage could have been snatched away in the sixth but the world champions failed to capitalise and Britain went into the final end with a 4-2 advantage.

It fell to Neilson to deliver the final stone and, ultimately, it was one she wasn’t totally happy with – leaving Norway with the chance to tie things up and force an extra end.

But once again they couldn’t deliver, much to the delight of the British skip.

All smiles for Great Britain as they defeat Norway 5-2

A long way to go

“We’re really pleased,” said Neilson. “The whole team played some really good shots and it was enough to get a win out of it, so we’re really delighted.

“It’s a real boost of confidence because it’s always good to win that first game in a competition.

“Anyone that is here be it the world champions or not are world class teams but it is nice to come out in our first game with a win.

“My last stone was meant to be a bit shorter but thankfully for us we managed to come out with a win.

“We’re always confident we can make those small adjustments. That’s what we do every day in training.

“After you’ve played a stone there’s nothing you can do about it. But we knew we could force a one and if we gave up a two we could go into an extra end so it wasn’t the end of the world.”

While Neilson isn’t getting carried away with the win the believes the team’s experience will be key going forward – with the games coming thick and fast for the rest of the competition.

The first of those comes against Switzerland on Sunday with Finland lying in wait later in the day – though Neilson isn’t fazed by the schedule.

“The experience helps and it’s just about having that strong mental attitude that if you’ve played one that isn’t great you’ll hopefully get another opportunity and learn from it,” she added.

“Going forward it’s two games a day now but that’s what we’ve trained for and we are used to it so it won’t be a problem.”

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