After bringing home their fourth provincial championship title in January, a local curling team is looking to add to their national medal count at the 2014 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship in Quebec next month.
Vancouver- and Richmond-based Team Neighbour, including skip Darryl Neighbour, second Vince Miele, third Frank LaBounty, alternate Gary Cormack and lead Alison Duddy, have been playing together for nearly a decade.
Their chemistry has earned them championships at both the provincial and national levels.
Neighbour, the founder of the team, has a 2010 Paralympic gold to his name, as well as a number of World Wheelchair Curling Championship titles.
Ready to compete on the Canadian stage
After suffering a blood infection in 2012, he said he is ready to get back to competing on the Canadian and world stages.
“It’s hard to describe,” he said about competing in the 2010 Paralympics. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing, especially playing at home.”
Vince Miele said he is excited about the nationals in Quebec, where they will be facing off against nine other teams competing for Canadian dominance.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Miele said. “We ended up with a silver medal last year and the team is just a little bit different this year.”
Practice makes perfect
LaBounty and Duddy live outside of Metro Vancouver. According to Miele, that can make getting together for practices both time-consuming and costly. It’s alleviated in part by sponsorships and the generosity of local businesses.
“We’ve been very lucky because one of the local hotel managers has given us some room nights,” Miele said. “So that’s helped a lot.”
Cormack also has Paralympic experience, having won gold with Team Canada in 2006. He, Neighbour and Miele all play in local Vancouver and Richmond leagues, quite often against able-bodied opponents or on mixed teams.
The 2014 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship takes place in Quebec from April 28 to May 4.
Reported by Ben Zutter