A final-year Stirling student is travelling to Aberdeen this weekend to represent her country on the global stage.
Niamh Begley-Luke is originally from Limerick in Ireland, but moved to the Stirling area two years ago in pursuit of a nursing career.
She is the president of the University of Stirling Curling Club, and plays for a local team at The Peak.
When she first moved to the area in 2017, she had never heard of the sport.
Niamh told us: “I got lost in the Students’ Union one day and ended up stumbling across the sports clubs noticeboard. I saw curling advertised but I had never heard of it before.
“So, I went home and googled it, then decided to give it a go.”
Fast forward three years, and she is getting ready to represent the Irish Curling Federation at the World Mixed Curling Championships in Aberdeen.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, Niamh joked: “I’m extremely excited because I’ve never represented anything higher than at a university level before.
“It initially attracted me because it is something completely different.”
Today, October 12, 40 teams will flock to the Granite City for ten days of intense competition.
Ireland will face hosts Scotland on the last day of the group stages, at 8p.m. on October 17.
Also in the group are Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Turkey and Chinese Taipei.
At the conclusion of the round robin, the top three teams in each group, along with the best fourth-place finisher, will progress to the play-offs and be in with a shout of the medals.
Team Ireland recently played in the Kinross International Friendly Bonspiel and got off to an excellent start winning their first two games convincingly.
However, they were stopped in the semi-final by a very experienced Welsh team who are also in the ‘Granite City’ for the world mixed.
Former University of Stirling skip and Irish teammate James Russell, was originally supposed to lead team Ireland at the championships, but has been replaced by alternate skip, John Wilson.
Niamh hopes that her success in such a short space of time will inspire others to pick up a curling brush.
She added: “Curling is like driving a car. At the start you’re really scared in case you fall over but if you throw yourself into it, you can get quite good, quite quickly.
“It’s so much fun, and really is for people of all ages. I can’t wait to represent Ireland and hopefully put in a strong performance at my first international meet.”
Featured image: Niamh after her first match representing the Irish Curling Association. Credit: Niamh Begley