West Kent ladies ready for European curling challenge

    COOL CUSTOMERS (L-r) England’s Naomi Robinson, Lauren Pearce, Hetty Garnier, Anna Fowler and Angharad Ward

    A SENIOR member of the England Ladies curling team is in confident mood as her side gear up for the European Championships.
    Anna Fowler, who grew up in Tunbridge Wells and began her career locally at Fenton’s rink, believes the national squad – who hail from West Kent – are in strong form coming into their latest major event in Glasgow starting this weekend.
    The 25 year-old, who has captained the junior and senior teams, believes they could be in strong contention for championships honours.
    They face several tough opponents in B Division including the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Turkey.
    Anna said: “We’ve been playing really well as a team this season, and I feel that we have got a good chance of being promoted [to the A Division].
    “We have been pushing ourselves and training hard, so we will be disappointed if we don’t do well at the championships this month.”
    The Tonbridge Grammar School pupil now lives in London, where she works as a marketing manager.
    But she is proud of her Tunbridge Wells roots in her fast-developing sport, which hit the headlines when Team GB’s impressive women’s team won a bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
    English players have yet to break into the Team GB squad, which is made up of Scottish members, there is a growing belief that this could soon change.
    Though Anna has competed at a number of -major international events, she enjoys returning to Tunbridge Wells, which has the country’s only curling facility, and competes in Fenton’s monthly league.
    “I started playing when I was around 13, with my interest in the sport coming about through my mum – who had played in Switzerland, so we did it as a family. Then when I was playing at Tunbridge Wells, I got asked to represent the English junior team.
    “I’ve managed to play around the world and I think it’s a great sport with a strong element of strategy to it. One of the best things about it is that anyone can play from the age of about 11 to 80 and you can soon be playing in around 15 minutes.
    “But to become good does take a lot of practice,” added Anna, who explained that as well as the pure sporting challenge, it is also a very social game.
    It seems the sporting talent runs in the family, with Anna’s brother Ben, 22, also competing for the England men’s team.
    They have also formed a mixed doubles partnership and are hoping to compete at the World Championships in April next year.
    Last year was momentous for the England team, as they launched a crowdfunding drive to enable them to compete in the European finals, with Anna captaining the side.
    The ladies put in a fine performance but -narrowly missed out on a medal – which has left them with some unfinished business as they prepare for this year’s event.

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