Ireland’s curling team and the Irish Curling Association are delighted at the news from Monday’s meeting of the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C) which approved a new Mixed curling competition for the 2018 games.
A delighted Irish team member and journalist Louise Kerr summed it up nicely : “Now that’s something to aim for!” So right Louise and hopefully the news will also encourage more investment from the Irish Sports Council and Government.
The I.O.C statement from their Lausanne HQ said:
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that Mixed Doubles curling has been approved as an additional event at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The announcement was made following IOC Executive Board meeting held in Lausanne, Switzerland earlier today.
This confirmation means that three curling events – Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Doubles, will now be part of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games programme.
Speaking of the announcement, World Curling Federation (WCF) President Kate Caithness said: “We are absolutely delighted with this news confirming that Mixed Doubles will be included in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Our athletes have showcased this exciting and dynamic alternative to traditional team curling at our World Mixed Doubles Championships for many years now and we’re thrilled that their progress has been rewarded by the IOC’s decision.”
She continued: “We are confident that that this addition to the Olympic programme will accelerate curling’s growth extensively over the coming years. As a result, this is another key step in the development of curling as we look to make our sport more accessible to everyone around the world.”
The WCF will now progress with finalising the qualification process for the Mixed Doubles curling event at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Details of this process along with any changes to the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship will be announced at the upcoming World Curling Congress taking place in Belgrade, Serbia between 2-5 September 2015.
The next edition of the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship will take place in Karlstad, Sweden between 16 and 23 April 2016 and it is expected that the new Mixed Doubles Olympic Qualification System will be in place by then.
In curling terms, Ireland is of course one of the smaller nations but that is not a reason not to further invest in the sport inc facilities and help the I.C.A find additional sponsors. The WCF encourages those smaller nations to take good note of the IOC announcement.
Speaking of the potential opportunities this decision may now bring, WCF President Kate Caithness said: “You just have to look at some of the teams who have won medals at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship over the past few years – the likes of Hungary, Spain and Austria for example. They are associations that are improving year on year, particularly in Mixed Doubles, but find it difficult to break through in traditional curling competitions. Now that this discipline will be part of the Games, many more associations will have a chance of winning an Olympic medal.”
She continued: “We also hope that national sporting bodies will release additional funding to support Mixed Doubles teams. As a consequence, this will help further develop our sport, particularly in some of the associations where Mixed Doubles is proving increasingly popular.”
As an I.O.C Executive Vice President and great supporter of Irish teams in Olympic competitions (Summer and Winter) one feels sure that Olympic Council of Ireland President Patrick Hickey will be encouraging the Irish Sports Council and Irish Lotto among others to assist here. Though Pat is very busy just now with the Opening ceremony of the EOC European Games Baku 2015 just days away, I’m sure that the I.C.A with support from the WCF will soon be encouraging him to “assist” with funding to develop the sport further through his contacts at Government level in Dublin.