Meet Australia’s First-Ever Olympic Curlers Set To Make History At The Winter Olympics - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Meet Australia’s First-Ever Olympic Curlers Set To Make History At The Winter Olympics

Australians Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt will make history as the first-ever Olympic curlers.

 

The Winter Olympics is fast-approaching and while it’s certainly an exciting time for athletes and fans alike, for Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt it promises to be a memorable one. The Aussie teammates will make history at the 2022 Winter Olympics as Australia’s first-ever Olympic curlers, granting the nation our own Cool Runnings story. 

If you’re not familiar with the sport of curling, you’re not alone. Typically played indoors on artificial ice-rinks, the sport sees players slide stones on a sheet of ice toward a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles. It requires incredible levels of precision, as well as power and endurance from the sweeping as well. If we were to compare it to something, you could consider it akin to playing chess on ice – only this time you’re doing it for speed. The sport isn’t exactly woven into the fabric of our national identity and as a result, the country doesn’t even have a single dedicated curling facility. It makes the landmark moment for Gill and Hewitt even more special, a testament to their unwavering motivation and desire to succeed despite numerous setbacks and obstacles that lay in their way. 

The pair will take to their sport at the Games as the undisputed underdogs, coming up against the best in the sport with years of experience behind them. “It’s a strong field, every single team there is really good. But that means that any team could come out on top,” Gill explained to The Guardian. “For everyone at the Olympics, you want to try and get a medal – that would be fantastic,” adds Hewitt. “We’re just going to push as hard as we can every game and see what we can do out there.”

For Gill, it was her mother who inspired her to take up curling after watching it at the Winter Olympics on TV. At the time, Gill’s mother was a figure-skater, but inquired about curling at the local ice rink. When she was told they didn’t offer curling, she rounded up some Canadian and American expatriates and formed their own curling club in Brisbane. “I saw her go training each night and ultimately represent Australia,” says Gill. “She really inspired me to give it a go – and now here I am.” Similarly for Hewitt, he was inspired by his Canadian mother who also happened to be a curling enthusiast. 

Since Gill and Hewitt joined forces, they have continued to see success in the sport. The pair finished fourth in a field of 48 nations at the 2019 world championships in Norway, the best finish for an Australian team in any curling discipline. Two years later, needing a similar performance to qualify for Beijing, the pair placed 13th. It meant they needed to finish in the top two to qualify for the Olympics. Thankfully, a narrow one-point triumph over South Korea saw them secure the spot.

It’s a feat that’s made even more remarkable when you consider the fact both Gill and Hewitt have other careers. Given the limited support for the sport of curling, these are essential for them both, with Gill studying to be a primary school teacher and Hewitt working as an exercise physiologist along with a couple of odd jobs on the side. 

Now, the pair have their eyes locked firmly on the competition at the Winter Olympics and they have a nation behind them. “I think once you get out there, feel that ice underneath the slider and throw that first stone, I think once you actually get on the ice, it’ll feel like home,” says Hewitt. “It’s just when you look up, that’s the difference – when you see those Olympic Rings.” 

Jessica Campbell

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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