Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Coronavirus: Curling champion keeps training with kitchen sweeping

Sophie Sinclair Image copyright Sophie Sinclair
Image caption Sophie Sinclair has been practicing sweeping on her slippery kitchen floor during the lockdown

A Scottish curling champion has been practising her sweeping technique on her slippery kitchen floor because she's unable to get back on the ice during the lockdown.

Sophie Sinclair has been finding ways to continue training as she aims for a place at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The 23-year-old, who lives on her parents' strawberry farm near Edinburgh, has built her own gym.

And a psychologist has been helping Sophie and her team-mates visualise the game and bond together over the internet.

"He has given us all a recording of his voice and we listen to it three times every day while sitting on the edge of a chair with our eyes shut," she explains.

Image copyright Sophie Sinclair
Image caption Sophie Sinclair listens to the psychologist's recordings with her eyes closed

Sophie says the visualisation techniques he uses - imagining things like the sound of the ice and the feeling of releasing the stone - have helped with her confidence.

"This is an unprecedented time so the psychologist is trying everything to get us ready for our return to the ice and for the Olympics," she says.

"I have also been continuing my sweeping with my brush in the kitchen as the floor is very slippy.

"It helps me practice and keep my position and the motion of the movement."

Sophie won the Scottish Championships in 2019 and is hoping to compete at the Olympics in Beijing in 2022.

She had travelled to Canada to compete in the world championships in March, but the event was cancelled the day before it was due to begin.

Image copyright British Curling
Image caption Sophie Sinclair won the Scottish Championships in 2019

"The world championships are really important because that is where you get points to enter the Olympics," explained Sophie.

"Now everything will be riding on next year's world championships because we have missed the points from this year.

"This puts a lot of pressure on us as we only have one opportunity rather than two chances for points."

After the event was called off Sophie returned home to Craigie's Farm in Queensferry, where she has built a gym in a shed so she can retain her fitness.

She has been off the ice for two months and is unsure when her training rink in Stirling will reopen.

"It is strange because I'm so used to being on the ice every day, so I've been finding myself a bit lost.

"Everyone in the team is also worried about getting a bit rusty.

"I'm also missing my team because we go all over the world together so it feels strange not being with them. They are like my sisters."

The team is also having to adjust to the addition of two new members.

Sophie said: "It is so important for us to know how to react in the game and to interact with each other, so team dynamics is a massive thing in curling.

"It's such a small team that you have to be able to support each other and get on, so our psychologist has been giving us exercises to do over Zoom so we can learn everything about our new players right down to family members and their different memories from childhood.

"He's given us 36 questions to ask each other so we can get to know each other before we meet for the first time on the ice."

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