Winter Paralympics: GB curler Angie Malone on training through cancer treatment

The year before Angie Malone turned 50 was the year she had the time of her life.

A life and sporting career that had taken in personal injury, family trauma and medals of every colour led her to the 2014 Winter Paralympics and a bronze in wheelchair curling for Great Britain.

Now she will have the time of her life all over again at Pyeongchang 2018 – her fourth Winter Games – and enters with an infectious positivity that would have seemed so far away when she was paralysed in a car accident as a teenager.

“I was 16. I had broken my back and was paralysed from the chest down. I was devastated. I thought it was the end of the word. I had visions of my career – I wanted to be a nurse,” she tells BBC Sport.

It was 21 years later when Glaswegian Malone discovered wheelchair curling and success came quickly – back-to-back world titles with Scotland in 2004 and 2005, plus Paralympics silver at Turin 2006.

But another health setback was on the horizon, one she would struggle to come to terms with.

“In 2008 I found a lump in my breast. When the biopsy came back and it said I had breast cancer, I was in total shock,” Malone, 52, recalls.

“I have never felt shock like that in my life. It was a totally different feeling to after the accident.”

Malone is the most experienced member of the GB wheelchair curling team
‘She’s a like a terrier’

Two years away from the 2010 Vancouver Games, skip Malone led Scotland to Scottish and British Championship titles, but missed the 2008 and 2009 Worlds – a Paralympics wasn’t going to fall to the wayside as well.

“Tenacious.” That’s how GB’s wheelchair curling head coach Sheila Swan describes Malone. “Like a little terrier.”

It was that tenacity which Malone required to get through training sessions and treatment for cancer.

“I found it difficult at times. It was really hard. Yes there were tears. There were times in the gym I would come out exhausted,” she says.

“I get emotional now thinking about it, but I wanted to go to the Paralympics.

“I said to everyone, ‘I want to continue my training through the chemotherapy’. I knew I was going to feel ill for three days a month – really ill. And I sure did.

“But I had my focus and plan. I had it in my diary – I knew the days I was going to be ill, I knew the days I could be in the gym, I knew the days I could be on the ice.

“It was what I had been training for. I dug deep. I was selected and it was amazing.”

Meet ParalympicsGB’s wheelchair curling team
‘My husband was diagnosed with cancer too’

Swan, who has known Malone for more than 10 years, adds: “She wasn’t going to sit down and let the treatment stop her from doing things. Unless she was feeling absolutely dreadful, she was in the gym and on the ice. She wasn’t going to be beaten.”

Malone recovered and has been a mainstay of British and Scottish wheelchair curling during the fallow times of relegation to the second tier of world competition in 2015 and now as the all-Scottish team – bronze medallists at the most recent World Championship – emerge as medal contenders in South Korea.

It is a career that saw her collect an MBE last year for services to the sport, but it proved to be bittersweet.

“It came at a time my partner John had been diagnosed with cancer. We were laughing and crying at the same time,” Malone says.

“It was huge to go to Buckingham Palace and to receive the award from the Duke of Cambridge Prince William. And to have John and my two daughters there was amazing.”

Malone and team-mate Aileen Neilson have competed at three Paralympics together
It has been a remarkable life and career for Malone, but she still has one particular medal to tick off.

Across three Winter Games, she has won silver and bronze, but don’t rule out her adding a gold when she takes to the ice in Pyeongchang with skip Aileen Neilson and team-mates Hugh Nibloe, Gregor Ewan and Robert McPherson.

“Winning silver in 2006 and bronze in 2014 – that bronze in Sochi felt like gold. We had worked so hard,” Malone says.

“I will be 53 this year and I am the fittest and strongest I’ve ever been in my whole life.

“To receive a gold medal in Pyeongchang would be the most absolute amazing thing ever – totally out of this world.”


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