With seven national blind curling championships already on their resume, Dean Martell and his Kelowna team will be seeking another title at the Canadian Visually Impaired Curling Championships, Feb. 1 to 7 in Ottawa.
Kelowna qualified by winning the provincial playdowns in Vancouver last January.
“You basically qualify the previous year so it gives the club enough time to raise the funding to attend the week long bonspiel,” said Kelowna lead and teams spokesperson Bob Comba.”With the support of many local businesses we do a fund raiser every fall at the curling club.
The Kelowna team is made up with five blind and visually impaired curlers as well as an on-ice coach/guide and an off-ice coach. This years team members are: skip Dean Martell, third Frank Costello, second Donna Loewen, lead Bob Comba, designated sweeper Brian Lechelt, on ice-coach Barb Hansen Comba and off ice coach Carol McAstocker.
The week-long competition, held during White Cane Week, will showcase the abilities of many of Canada’s best blind and visually impaired curlers from coast to coast.
“We are looking forward to the competition and renewing our old friendships and as we are not the defending champions then there is no added pressure “ says Comba. “The curling is more competitive and there will be no easy games.”
The team enters the championships with 65 wins and five losses over the past eight years they attended.
The Kelowna blind curlers practice once a week and participate in the Monday night commercial league at the curling club.
White Cane Week is always the first full week in February with the focus on awareness of not only prevention of vision loss but living with it as well.
AMI (Accessible Media Inc.) has teamed up with the CCB (Canadian Council of the Blind) in hosting the annual championships.