Madeleine Wilson.
Madeleine Wilson.

Packing bags for ice adventure

Emma Boland

WHEN 18-year-old Madeleine Wilson first laid eyes on the winter sport of curling she thought exactly what the majority of Australians think 'what's that'?

The Chuwar athlete was initially drawn to the unusual sport when she spotted it during the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino.

Wilson was watching the coverage on television when Sweden and Switzerland took to the ice in the women's gold medal match.

"I remember thinking what type of game is this," the aspiring Olympian said.

"So after I watched the match I jumped on the Internet and googled it. I found that there was a curling association in Queensland, so I emailed the guy in charge.

"He got back to me and invited me to attend a game at Boondall to get a better understanding of the sport.

"I had never seen anything like it before and it really caught my eye."

Curling sometimes is referred to as the ice version of lawn bowls one player delivers a stone and two sweepers run ahead of the stone's path to the house. The sweepers then attempt to melt the ice, which in turn makes the stones travel further.

The former Kenmore State High School student said it was curling's unfamiliarity that drew her to the sport in the first place.

"When I tell people that I am involved in curling the majority of people look at me dumfounded and strangely as they have no idea what sport I am talking about," Wilson said.

"The best way I can describe it is chess on ice. It's a very tactical game that is always challenging.

"It's a lot of fun and it's a very mental game. It is easy to get psyched out and it's very physically demanding.

"From what I have been told, it's easy to learn, but takes a lifetime to master."

Wilson, who is studying Engineering and Mining at the University of Queensland, has been selected in the Australian women's curling team to contest the Pacific Curling Championships in Asia next month.

The week-long championships will pit Australia against the Pacific region's premier curling teams China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.

Wilson was selected for the Australian side for the first time after attending a training camp in New Zealand as part of the national women's team.

"It's a great feeling to have made the team at such a young age," she said.

Wilson is hoping to master the art of curling from her fellow team-mates, who include two women from Queensland, one from New South Wales and another from Victoria.

"The women in the team have been playing for years, many who are regulars at the Pacific championships," she said.

"So it's going to be a great experience.

"I will get a lot from it and from them."

If the Australian team can figure high in the standings at the championships over the next few years, they have the chance to qualify for the World Curling Championships.

From there the team can accumulate enough points to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics something that Wilson is keen to helping her team achieve.

"At the moment the women's team is ranked 27th in the world and you have to be in the top ten to attain placement, so we have to keep chipping away at it," Wilson, who is the youngest member of the team, said.

"But that's the fun of it. It's a great honour to represent my country.

"Hopefully we can do well at the championships."

The Australian women's team consist of five committed athletes who self-fund their pursuit of attaining top-level status in curling.

If you can help Wilson achieve her goals through sponsorship, email her at qldcurling@hotmail.com.



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