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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Nanaimo curler eyes national selection


Ellis Tull was part of a provincial team that was narrowly beaten by Paralympic bronze medalists

Ross Armour / Daily News
December 5, 2014 12:00 AM

  Six years ago, Ellis Tull didn't see curling as his thing and had never practised the sport in his life — but a call from Spinal Cord Injury B.C. changed everything.
These days, he's a provincial champion, a member of Team B.C. and has recently been invited to a training with Team Canada's Paralympic gold medalists.

Back in 2008, Tull received the call asking for him to show up at a wheelchair curling invitational at the Nanaimo Curling Club.

"I wasn't really into it," Tull admits. "I was into more action type sports like skiing but I promised them I would show up, so I curled this one day." Tull, who has been confined to a wheelchair since 2003 following a motocross accident where he broke his back and lost the use of his legs, was one of 12 people who showed up.

That number dwindled week-to-week, but it didn't stop him. "I wasn't any good at first, but I could see where the sport was going and I always like to have a goal to achieve, so I kept going back," he said.

"I just started curling recreationally once a week for something to do and I got better. "I figured if I really wanted to apply myself I could continue to progress, so I gave myself a four-year plan."
In 2012, Tull won the provincial championship in Thunder Bay, Ont., and was dnamed a member of Team B.C. Nowadays, he remains a provincial champion but on a different team and thus a different Team B.C.

Last weekend, Tull and his teammates were in Richmond to compete in the 2014 Canadian Open, which featured Canada's gold medal winning team from the Sochi Olympics in February.
Also present was Team Russia, who lost to Canada in the Paralympic final, and Team Scotland, who took bronze.

"We ended up playing Team Canada twice at the Canadian Open," Tull said. "We played them in the last game of the round robin and then 45 minutes later in the bronze medal game, where we didn't lose by much."
Tull and Team B.C. lost in the final end.

"After we were done, their coach came up to me and asked me if I'd like to come and train with them," Tull said. "I obviously said 'of course.'" Tull will now head to Vancouver next week as part of a four-day training camp with Team Canada, beginning Thursday. "My hopes are to learn from them and get better, but make an impression at the same time," he said. "I've had some curling instruction over the years but not a whole lot. I've basically learned by myself. What I can learn in a year, I can learn from them in 10 minutes."
Now that he has caught the eye of the sport's elite, Tull fancies his chances of making it onto Team Canada one day.

"Everybody on that team originally went as an invite to a camp," he said. "Once they showed good at the camp, they were invited to a tryout a year or so down the road and then they make the team.
"I'm hoping this is a natural progression to that level but if not, I'm totally fine with staying on the great team I'm on."

Tull praised the now "fully accessible" Nanaimo Curling Club and said "it's just a great place to be."
He has also formed Shock Therapy Suspension in 2005, a Nanaimo-based company that services and modifies motorcycle, ATV and snowmobile suspensions of all types, which he operates out of his home.
- See more at: http://www.nanaimodailynews.com/sports/nanaimo-curler-eyes-national-selection-1.1651702#sthash.feu41KJR.dpuf

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