Pupils of Sciennes Primary School have embraced the spirit of Sochi 2014 after being given a curling masterclass by Edinburgh Paralympian Tom Killin.
While the Winter Olympics has officially opened in Sochi, Tom is part of a five-strong all-Scottish squad that will travel to the Russian city later this month to prepare for the Paralympics, which begins on March 7. He met Sciennes pupils (left to right) Angus Crawford, Akalan Ganeshram, Christian Robertson, Eben Millar, and Mhairi Morrison.
Tom and British Curling coach Graham Young were on ice to guide pupils through the basics of curling, which is a major feature of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics and a sport from which Team GB hopes to gain some medals in Sochi.
Tom, 63, is a three-time Paralympic silver-medallist, having twice finished runner-up as a fencer at the 1980 Games in Arnhem, Netherlands, and coming second on his Games debut as a curler in Turin in 2006. He has also represented Scotland at wheelchair table tennis, winning a World Championship silver medal, and wheelchair basketball.
He said: “I really enjoyed meeting the local school children today and showing them the basics of curling on the ice. Curling is a sport which is fairly easy to pick up and they all did really well so I hope they come back and curl again.”
Tom, who happily showed off his array of medals to the excited group of children, is looking forward to competing at Sochi 2014 and hopes that watching Team GB compete will inspire more people to take up the sport. He said: “Sochi will mark the third time I have competed in the Paralympics but I’m looking forward to it as much as I did the other two. I think there’s going be more television coverage of The Games this year, which is fantastic, and I really hope this encourages more people to go along to their local rink to try their hand at curling.
“Taster sessions are being run by qualified coaches from The Royal Caledonian Curling Club at Murrayfield in February and March and I’d encourage people to go along. Some people take a few steps on it and immediately decide it’s not for them, but others instantly take to it.”
Primary six pupil Christian Robertson said: “Tom was a very good teacher, and I was impressed by how many sports he does. I found curling fun, because I’ve never done a sport like that before. I thought you just had to slide the stone on the ground, but it’s much harder than that. I would definitely do it again and would like to take my dad.
“I’ll watch as much curling as I can during the Winter Olympics.”
Mhairi Morrison, another primary six pupil, said: “I found curling quite tricky, but it was really fun. I would like to play it again with my friends or sister.
“Tom was really cool, nice, and fun, and he let us hold his silver Olympic medal.”
Eben Millar, a budding figure skater and classmate of Mhairi and Christian, said: “Curling was really good, but it was hard to push the stone around. I had fun and would try it again. Tom was very impressive, because he’s won so many medals over the years. This is his last Paralympics, and curling’s not his only sport so he’s a huge inspiration.”
• For advice on how to try curling, and for more information on local clubs and classes and nearby events, visit www.trycurling.com