A dozen teams chase their Paralympic dreams in PyeongChang - Part Three

  • Team China © WCF / Céline Stucki

As the countdown to the Paralympic Winter Games 2018, being held in Gangneung, Republic of Korea, comes to an end, we look at the remaining four teams competing in the Gangneung Curling Centre from Saturday 10 March until Saturday 17 March.

All of these Member Associations (MAs) earned their place at the Games through the sum of their qualification points gained at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships (WWhCCs) held in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Let's meet the teams:

Team China

China has a strong wheelchair curling tradition. Their team earned their berth at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 by finishing second in 2015, fifth in 2016 and fourth in 2017 at the WWhCCs.

In the qualification process only Russia (competing at the Games as Neutral Paralympic Athletes) earned more points than they did, while Norway matched their qualification points total. China made their Paralympic wheelchair curling debut four years ago in Sochi, where they reached the play-off stage finishing in fourth place.

In PyeongChang they are skipped by Haitao Wang, with third Jianxin Chen, Wei Liu throwing second stones, Meng Wang playing lead and supported by Qiang Zhang as alternate.

Haitao Wang, Liu and Zhang were part of the Chinese Paralympic team in Sochi, and also won world championship silver medals in 2015. While Jianxin also has has world championship experience, competing in both the 2016 and 2017 competitions. Meng Wang makes his debut on international ice in the Gangneung Curling Centre.

Team Germany

The city of Vancouver plays a significant role in the history of German wheelchair curling. Their best result at the WWhCCs is a bronze medal from 2009, earned in the Canadian metropolis, and it is the only city where they participated in Paralympic Games, in 2010. The German team qualified for the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang by finishing seventh, eighth and ninth in the qualification WWhCCs in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.

This year's national squad consists of skip Christiane Putzich, third Harry Pavel, second Martin Schlitt, lead Heike Melchior and alternate Wolf Meissner, who are all Paralympic debutants.

Skip Christiane Putzich is looking forward to the Paralympic adventure: "For me and my team I hope that we will have a really great time and that this will be an unforgettable experience for all of us. I am very excited about the whole experience, the atmosphere at the opening ceremony, the Paralympic Village and the surroundings. And of course, like all athletes, I hope that the Paralympics will be successful for our team."

Team Great Britain

Team GB participated in all Paralympic wheelchair tournaments so far, winning silver medal in 2006 in Turin and bronze in 2014 in Sochi. They qualified for the 2018 Games by finishing eighth in 2015 and third in 2017 at the WWhCCs, where Team GB qualification points are earned by Scotland.

The team consists of four of the returning members of the bronze medal winners from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games: Skip, Aileen Neilson, second Gregor Ewan, lead Bob McPherson and alternate Angie Malone, while third player Hugh Nibloe makes his Paralympic debut here in PyeongChang.

Alternate, Angela Malone is one of the most decorated wheelchair curlers on the international stage, having competed at four Paralympic Winter Games, earning Paralympic silver (2006) and bronze (2014) medals, as well six winning world championships medals so far.

Skip Aileen Neilson shared her excitement about the Games with us: "I am really looking forward to heading out to South Korea. We have been watching the Olympic coverage and the arena is looking really good. It's going to be great staying in the same village with the athletes from all the other sports, sharing experiences and watching their performances. With all the hard work and preparation on and off the ice completed, we are keen to get out there and get started."

Team Neutral Paralympic Athlete

The Neutral Paralympic Athletes team (NPA) were the most successful side during the qualification process for the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 where they competed as Russia.

Their team topped the qualification rankings by winning world wheelchair curling gold medals in 2015 and 2016 and earning silver medals in 2017.

The team in PyeongChang will be composed of skip Konstantin Kurokhtin, third Marat Romanov, second Alexander Shevchenko, lead Daria Shchukina and alternate Andrei Meshcheriakov. Romanov and Schevchenko were part of the silver medal winning Paralympic team in Sochi and they are also three-time world champions (2012, 2015, 2016).
To follow the build-up to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #Roadto2018 #curling

All photos © WCF / Céline Stucki
Written by Mariann Bardocz-Bencsik