Stranraer curler Niall Ryder wins World Junior Championship in Sweden

Stranraer teenager Niall Ryder has put the seal on a remarkable season for local and national curling by helping his rink lift the World Junior Championship.

By Ian MacLean
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 11:57 am
Niall Ryder (left) and James Craik celebrate their World Junior Championship triumph (pic: WCF / Cheyenne Boone)
Niall Ryder (left) and James Craik celebrate their World Junior Championship triumph (pic: WCF / Cheyenne Boone)

Ryder and his team-mates – skip James Craik, Angus Bryce, Scott Hyslop – dominated the championships in Jonkoping in Sweden.

They won all but one of their nine round-robin matches, saw off Norway 7-5 in the semi-final and then hammered Germany 7-1 in the final to lift the gold.

Ryder now joins Stranraer curling’s 2021-22 roll of honour, having watched the likes of Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan and Vicky Wright all win a selection of Olympic, World and European honours.

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“Words can't describe how happy the boys and I are, especially after Covid,” he said. “To get back to competitions and finish the season on a big high feels amazing.

"The final was a very weird game to play. We expected it to come down to the last stone and go right to the line but as soon as we got a steal of two and went 3-0 up we're really good front runners.

"We were just trying to focus and not look too far ahead.

"We set our goal out to finish top of the round-robin and were able to do that but I think that just comes from following all our processes. We took it one game at a time, one end at at time, a shot at a time."

But did the glory trail blazed by other local curlers this year act as an inspiration or create added pressure?

“I think it's a combination of both,” he told the Galloway Gazette. “You're representing your area, one renowned for very good curlers, but at the same time you feel a sense of pride that you're able to do that as well.

"It definitely inspires me to play at that level where Hammy and Vicky have won and to aspire to be where they are now and you feed off it."

Niall works as a waiter at the Portpatrick Hotel, who also double as his sponsors, and he is quick to acknowledge their support.

He said: “The Portpatrick Hotel give me all the time off I need and I can’t thank them enough, they're great employers.

"Gail [Munro] as well, manager of the curling rink and all the time she puts in to the juniors and the chats with you as a group or one to one.

"And obviously my parents. Without their help I wouldn't have been able to get to where I am now."