Central Otago pair chasing qualification for Olympics

Anton Hood (below) and Courtney Smith compete for New Zealand at the 2019 Winter Games in Naseby....
Anton Hood (below) and Courtney Smith compete for New Zealand at the 2019 Winter Games in Naseby. PHOTOS: WINTER GAMES NZ / IAIN MCGREGOR
Two Central Otago curlers are heading for Scotland with hopes of heading to China next year.

Courtney Smith and Anton Hood are to represent New Zealand at the World Mixed Doubles Championships in Aberdeen.

They will compete for one of seven direct spots to qualify for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

The duo are one of 20 teams at the championships, which will be played in a bubble next week.

The New Zealand Curling Association has spent months working closely with the NZ Olympic Committee and Sport New Zealand to ensure that all necessary risks have been assessed.

That will allow the athletes to travel and compete as safely as possible.

National coach Peter de Boer is confident of the chances of the Maniototo pair.

"They are two very talented young athletes who have trained well.

"While they will be competing against some professional and semiprofessional athletes, the margins at this level are very thin. So I'm very hopeful they'll surprise some of their opponents."

Smith is a student nurse based in Dunedin, although originally from Maniototo.

She was looking forward to getting there.

"This is my first world event outside of the junior grades, so I'm excited to test my skills against the world's best."

Hood, a builder, has played in several international events.

He is focused on the Olympic spot.

"We've been given so much support from the Curling Association, the NZOC and Sport NZ," he said.

"We want to repay them all by challenging for one of those precious Olympic spots."

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