A father and daughter curling team have taken the first step in their ambition to curl for Ireland at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, by gaining a Olympic Qualification point.
Fifty-four year old Neil Fyfe, a police sergeant based in Stranraer, and his 21-year old daughter, Alison, currently a psychology student in Edinburgh, came 12th in last month’s World Mixed Doubles Championships in Karlstad, Sweden, giving them one precious point towards getting to the Olympics.
They now hope to qualify again to play again at the world championships in April next year in Lethbridge, Canada, to improve their ranking to a top seven place, which would give them automatic qualification for Pyongyang.
At the recent world championships, Neil and Alison finished third in their group, on three wins and three losses, which sent then into a tie-breaker with Italy which they won 9-8 to get them into the last 16 and a game against the 2015 world champions from Hungary. A last end superb double take out from Alison booked their place in the quarter-finals against Slovakia. Unfortunately, they lost that game but then had to play another game to establish the Olympic points rankings, losing to Austria, but hanging onto the last Olympic point for 12th place.
Back home, Neil has had time to reflect on the world championships and the pair’s plans for next season.
He said: “Although Alison and I did not have as much experience as most of the teams playing mixed doubles at we world championships, we were one of only 11 countries to leave Karlstad with points towards an Olympic place. We will be endeavouring to get as much experience as we can by playing in as many mixed doubles competitions featuring top level teams to extend our experience before the next world championships which is the only other opportunity anybody has to earn more Olympic points before Pyeongchang in 2018.”
A spokesperson for the Irish Curling Association added: “The whole of the Irish Curling Association are extremely proud of what Neil and Alison have achieved.
“We are a small curling nation, with around 50 members, and don’t have the resources of the bigger curling nations. Despite this, Neil and Alison have funded their curling campaign all season, paying their own way to play in competitions both in Scotland and abroad. We hope, now that they have got into the top 12 countries in the world they will get some financial support from sporting bodies in Ireland.”
The Fyfes, who live in Portpatrick and curl at Stranraer Ice Rink, qualify to curl for Ireland because Neil’s late mother, and Alison’s late grandmother, was Irish.