World Curling Championships are cool experience for Perse pupil

Lina Opel (Year 8) swept all before her as by far the youngest competitor at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships in Korea.

At the age of just 13, she teamed up with dad Michael to represent England at the tournament in Gangneung following the pair being crowned national champions in January.

Despite finishing bottom of their pool at the World Championships, they faced extremely tough opposition, including the respective gold, silver and bronze medal-winning teams – the USA, Japan and Norway.

For Lina, who trains with her father once a week at Cambridge Ice Arena, it was an amazing experience to be playing against the world’s elite curlers.

She said: “It was really good fun and I enjoyed playing with my dad. Getting to play against really good teams while we represented England was pretty special.

“We didn’t expect anything and there were one or two games each day, so it was very intense. I managed to get my first blister from curling because I was sweeping so much, but it did get very tiring.”

Picture: Eakin Howard/World Curling Federation

Lina was thrilled to meet some of the star names in the sport, including Italy’s 2022 Winter Olympic gold medallist Stefania Constantini and Scotland’s 2021 world champions Jennifer Dodds and Bruce Mouat.

“They were all very friendly, so it was really cool. Stefania said she didn’t realise I was only 13 and both she and Jennifer gave me their shirts,” said Lina.

With all matches being broadcast live, Lina said this added another layer of excitement to the whole experience.

She added: “There was one moment when we had just won an end and there was a camera right in my face, so I was trying to look serious!”

Lina now hopes to take confidence from her experience when she represents England at the World Junior Championships in Finland this winter.


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