About 100 athletes, coaches and parents took part in the PacificSport Sport Map Primer at the Civic Centre on Saturday, which included a talk with Canadian Olympic bronze medalist Georgina Wheatcoft.
Wheatcroft, who won the bronze as a member of the Kelley Law rink at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics spoke to the group about her experiences since her first curling match, when she was 14 years old.
Wheatcroft first picked up a curling broom when her parents signed up the family for a family bonspiel at a Victoria curling club.
“We looked at them and said you are kidding right and they said no. We were horrified we thought why would be want to play that sport. It’s not cool; it’s all old people out there. There was no way we’re going to do this. But we went and played the weekend,” said Wheatcroft, who tried a variety of sports from basketball, to tennis to swimming. “At the end of the weekend there were a couple of things about the sport that intrigued me: It depends individual excellence in a very small team and there is no bench to sit on and there is no where to hide.”
In 1987, just 22 years old Wheatcroft won a national and world title as third for Pat Saunders rink. When she was 24, Wheatcroft realized that her life was just curling and decided to take a break from it.
“The summer of 1989 I realized that curling had completely taken over my life. I had no perspective, no outside world and no balance. I made the decision to take off for a while. I was a 24 year old girl with a small back pack and big dreams to experience anything but curling,” said Wheatcroft.
Wheatcroft returned to the sport but it would be 13 years before she competed internationally again. It was the spring of 1999 when Wheatcroft received a call from Kelley Law and the two decided to curl together.
Throughout their competitive years Wheatcroft knew if the two curled together as opposed to against each other they could win it all.
“We decided to put together a team that would have three clear goals. To win a national championship, a world title and win an Olympic gold medal,” said Wheatcroft. When they stepped onto the ice that fall she said it was as if they had been playing together for a long time. The rink went on to win the provincial title, National Scott Tournament of Hearts, which was held in Prince George, and a World Championship in 2000.