When it comes to Paralympic glory, wheelchair curler David Melrose makes no secret of his golden ambitions.
“I want to win in Beijing in 2022 so I can have a post box in my town painted gold,” smiles the 53-year-old father of two. “That’s my dream.”
Victory would be the culmination of a long and painful journey for the former retained fire fighter, who took up curling after his back was broken by a falling steel beam.
After lengthy rehabilitation, David was picked for the British Curling Paralympic Performance Programme at the National Curling Academy (NCA) in Stirling.
Driving successful performance
Opened in 2018, the facility sees coaches use performance analysis to observe, analyse and provide feedback on the skills required for successful performance.
David said: “The NCA has definitely had a dramatic impact on my career. As well as being a world class venue, the technology is state-of-the-art, which benefits each player. They can break down your delivery style in minute detail to help analysis and spot delivery faults.
“Being able to play on ice that’s been specially prepared by the tech team is also a big help. The guys really try to help us understand the surface and the way they prep it.”
This support and technology has now opened up a whole new world of potential for David – and helped him finally start to think of himself as a bona fide sportsman.
The curler, who lives in Duns in the Borders, explained: “It’s taken me some time to realise that I am a full-time athlete and everything that that involves.”
Competing at the highest level
David is further supported by the experts at the sportscotland institute of sport, and earned his first cap for Scotland in March 2019, clinching silver at the World Curling Championships in Stirling.
He revealed: “Winning silver at my first Worlds was epic and at the same time surreal. It was like being in a bubble; everything around you is to help you perform at your best, but when it works and you’re winning you realise what it means, not just to you but to the spectators willing you to win.”
He added: “When I first joined the performance programme I was just glad to have been chosen. Being selected for the Worlds then gave me the confidence to believe the Paralympics could happen and also gave me the drive to try and achieve it.
“It’s just a great feeling knowing that someone believes in you and that they want you to reach a level where you can compete at the highest level in your chosen sport.”
It’s thanks to this high level of support that David says he’s now ready to inspire others in the same position.
He said: “I’d love to think that, in some small way, I could be a role model to someone and encourage them to take up a sport or even make a small change in their lifestyle.
“I’d love to pass on anything that I’ve learned – it’s important to get these things out there.”