Girl with Lewis connections has won World Junior Curling championship

Fresh from her success at January’s Junior Scottish Curling Championships, Robert Gordon University (RGU) student, Rhiann Macleod, whose grandpaparents live in Stornoway, joined her teammates in claiming gold at the recent world junior championships.

Twenty year old Rhiann is the grand daughter of Kenny and Belle Macleod of Lewis Street, Stornoway, and the third year social work student, from Blair Atholl, Perthshire, won alongside teammates Eve Muirhead (skip), Anna Sloan and Vicki Adams at the World Junior Championships on Sunday, March 13th.

It was a confident victory for Muirhead’s team at the Dewars Centre in Perth, with a final result of 10-3 against Canada’s Trish Paulsen.

Talking about the win, Rhiann said: “This was my first time representing Scotland and my last year as a junior, so it meant a lot. Going into the final we knew we would have to be on form with Canada always being the team to beat. Having played them in the round robin we knew they liked to play the big shots, so we tried to make them play the more delicate shots.

“The Canadian skip missed some key draws giving us a steal of a three and a two. Once we had a lead we just kept it clean with no silly mistakes and it paid off. It was great to win on home soil and the atmosphere was amazing!”

A former student of Pitlochry High School and (latterly) Breadalbane Academy, Rhiann has curled since she was 12 years old. Despite her young years she has already competed in the Oslo Women’s Cup, the Scottish Junior Championships, the Scottish Women’s Championships and European Junior Tours.

Yesterday’s success marks a winning streak for Rhiann, who claimed first place at the Columba Cream Scottish Women’s Curling Championships on 20 February also in Perth.

She will now fly to Esbjerg, Denmark, where she will compete at a senior level for her country at the Capital One World Women’s Curling Championships from 18 - 27 March.

Rhiann concluded: “Having secured gold at the World Juniors just before we head off to the World Women’s has given us a boost in confidence as well as good experience and practice. This will be our first experience of competing at this level at the Women’s Championships and we’re all really looking forward to the challenge.”

Rhiann’s sporting career is supported by the RGU: SPORT Scholar programme where she benefits from a package of tailor-made programmes devised to support her needs, sports discipline and academic course requirements. Like her fellow scholars at the University who compete across a broad portfolio of sports including swimming, football, rugby, gymnastics and skiing, Rhiann also receives financial support to help cover equipment, travel and accommodation costs as well as competition entry fees.

Sports Programme Manager at RGU: SPORT, Neil Brown, said: “We are delighted for Rhiann and her Scottish teammates on this fantastic achievement. Rhiann has worked extremely hard this year on and off the ice and this has paid off with a great win. What better way to prepare for the World Women’s Curling Championship 2011 later this month in Denmark by showing her competitors they are on top of their game.

“Special thanks must also go to the University’s Social Work department who have helped Rhiann balance her studies and sport by allowing her time off for this tournament and also for the forthcoming women’s competition in Denmark.”