Two of the newest members of the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame are Paralympic gold-medallists from B.C.
The 2016 inductees, announced Thursday, also include a world-renowned coach, a respected journalist and a record-setting curler/builder.
Ina Forrest, from Spallumcheen, near Armstrong, and Darryl Neighbour, from Richmond, join Earle Morris, Bob Weeks and Pierre Charette to be formally inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame at the Hall of Fame banquet during Tim Hortons Brier week in Ottawa.
“All five of our 2016 inductees have made huge contributions to the sport of curling, on and off the ice, and their achievements deserve to be recognized,” said Scott Comfort, Chair of Curling Canada’s Awards and Hall of Fame Committee. “As always, the challenge for the committee is making the tough decision with so many worthy nominees, but I feel like this year’s group made our decision easier based on their amazing accomplishments.”
The banquet is set for Wednesday, March 9, at the Westin Ottawa.
Forrest is one of the world’s most decorated wheelchair curlers.
Since taking up wheelchair curling in 2004, Forrest has won three World Wheelchair Curling Championship gold medals and two Winter Paralympics Games gold medals, and been a valued member of Team Canada since 2007.
“It was a surprise to receive the call,” said Forrest. “I was on my way home from our last training camp before going to the World Championship when Curling Canada called, and my first thought was I better play well at Worlds to be deserving of this! So, I am surprised and delighted to be considered, and also appreciative that I have had amazing teammates. I am but one part of a very collaborative curling effort.”
Forrest will be attending her eighth consecutive World Wheelchair Championship, beginning Feb. 21 in Lucerne, Switzerland. She was an alternate for Team Canada in 2007, and has been in the lineup ever since, winning world gold medals in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Additionally, she helped Canada claim Paralympic gold in 2010 at Vancouver and 2014 at Sochi, Russia.
Neighbour of Richmond, proved last spring that age is no barrier in the pursuit of athletic excellence.
At the age of 66 (he turned 67 last July), Neighbour added to what had already been a brilliant career by winning his third Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship. He was the vice-skip for Team B.C., skipped by Gerry Austgarden.
That title, combined with his stellar success on the world stage with Team Canada, earned him the call from Curling Canada to join the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.
“It was a total surprise, and then a shock,” said Neighbour. “It was the same way I felt when we won the gold medal in 2010 (at the Vancouver Paralympics). Ironically, I was curling a league game at the Olympic venue when I got the call, so it was only fitting.”
Neighbour and Forrest were teammates on the 2010 Paralympic gold-medal team, as well as on the 2009 and 2011 world championship Canadian teams.
Neighbour also represented Canada proudly at the 2008 and 2012 World Wheelchair Curling Championships.