Team Talk

Scot left paralysed now aims for Paralympic gold

28 March 2019

David Melrose found wheelchair curling after being left paralysed while working as a retained firefighter.

This month, David took part in the World Wheelchair Curling Championships at The Peak venue in Stirling. The Scottish team placed second in the finals, an incredible achievement after winning the semi-finals against Slovakia.

Nine years ago, the father-of-two was struck by a falling steel beam while attending a fire, leaving him paralysed from the waist down. The 53-year-old from Duns in the Scottish Borders, who loved to play football and was a keen golfer, explained:

“I’d always been sporty and loved being a firefighter, so when I came out of hospital and it finally sunk in that I would never walk again, I was in despair.

A few years after getting out of the spinal unit, David found curling through a disability show:

“I thought my sporting life was over until I had the chance to try out curling five years ago and joined a club in nearby Kelso. It was brilliant, and I haven’t looked back.

“It was the first sport I tried where I actually got that urge and feeling back of not wanting to lose and wanting to win. It was something I didn’t really expect to get back after my accident, but curling’s brought that part to my life again.”

Sheila Swan, British Curling head wheelchair coach, explained how curling can give athletes a “renewed focus, as well as drive and commitment. It can be life changing.”

Not only has curling physically helped David get fit and lose weight, but he has become more independent and believes it has helped his relationship with his wife. David also spoke of the psychological benefits of curling:

“It takes my mind off what I’m going through. Being in a wheelchair can be boring, but I don’t have time for bad days now.”

In 2016, David reached the final of the British Open and last year picked up his first cap for Scotland and was selected for the British Curling Programme. David’s big ambition, however, is to win a gold medal at the Paralympics:

“That’s something that everyone can look at and say: ‘that’s the guy that won gold in curling’. That’s the kind of pie in the sky ambition.”

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