Medal caps memorable trip

Written by Ian Graham/Thompson Citizen
Photo credit to Ian Graham/Thompson Citizen 

They didn’t come back with the gold, but Canada’s women’s curling team at the 2015 Deaflympics did wind up with the bronze and team member Brenda Davidson of Thompson says the whole experience was a thrill.

“The curling was awesome,” said Davidson, who is hard of hearing after losing some hearing as a child and competed alongside Sylvia Sigurdson, Sarah Rabu and Donna McLeod from Winnipeg. “The ice conditions were really good. We came home with a medal. We were happy with that.”

The trip to the Deaflympics, which were held in Khanty-Mansyiysk, Russia, northeast of Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, was Davidson’s first visit to continental Europe – she’d been to London en route to Zimbabwe before. And while she would have liked to have had more time to take in the sights, most of her days were spent eating, playing and shuttling back and forth from the curling venue to their hotel.

“The curling was pretty intense so that was our focus,” Davidson says.

The Canadian women wound up third despite losing only two games at the tournament – both of them to China. The Canadians dropped their opening game of the round robin, when Davidson says they had the jitters, then won the rest to finish first in their pool, which pitted them against China again in a playoff. China finished with silver after losing the final to Russia, while the Canadians beat Croatia for the bronze.

Brenda Davidson Deaflympics curling team 2015
Thompson’s Brenda Davidson, second from left, on the podium receiving her 2015 Deaflympics bronze medal with the other members of Canada’s women’s curling team. - Brenda Davidson

Overall, Davidson said the team performed well.

“We all worked well together,” she said, with good communication and team spirit and thanks to a lot of help from their fill-in coach Chris Hamblin, who was coaching the men’s team with her husband Lorne. “I think we curled awesome.”

Kathy Overton-Clapham, who had been working with the team since they qualified for the Deaflympics at the National Deaf Curling Trials in 2014, couldn’t make the trip to Russia, so Hamblin stepped up, working with the team at the games and when they trained for a few days in Toronto prior to departing.

“They were just wonderful coaches,” Davidson said. “It was amazing that they volunteered their time with our men’s and women’s team and they really helped us to bring our game to a higher level.”

Canada's women's curling team playing a game against Hungary at the 2015 Deaflympics in Russia.
Canada's women's curling team playing a game against Hungary at the 2015 Deaflympics in Russia. - Brenda Davidson

The trip started off in Toronto, where all of Canada’s Deaflympics athletes gathered before the games. The curling team practised for a few days there and left for Russia on March 24 after a send-off party with all the other athletes at the Deaf Culture Centre the day before.

The games kicked off with opening ceremonies.

“They had it at a really nice arena,” Davidson said, and the streets outside that led to the city square where the Deaflympics flame was lit were lined with spectators. “It was completely packed.”

The closing ceremonies were also amazing, said Davidson, with a dance performance accompanied by drums and a low horn that were perfect for deaf spectators.

“You could feel it,” she said.

Part of the fun of taking part in the games was being exposed to deaf people from all over the world, seeing different sign languages and comparing the signs they used. Representing Canada – something Davidson says she’d always dreamed about – was also a highlight.

Brenda Davidson teammates on ice after beating Croatia for bronze medal 2015 Deaflympics Russia
Thompson's Brenda Davidson and her teammates on the ice after beating Croatia for the bronze medal at the 2015 Deaflympics in Russia. - Brenda Davidson

“It was great,” she said, thanking everyone in Thompson and Northern Manitoba who helped the team get to Russia and cheered them on. “The Burntwood Curling Club executive, members and friends played a big part in helping me to raise funds to get to Russia as well as many generous community members and I will never forget their generosity.”

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