Rhona Howie has called for more support for her former training rink Greenacres Curling Club ©Getty Images

Salt Lake City 2002 curling gold medallist Rhona Howie has called for extra support for her local rink in Scotland, which is struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As reported by The Gazette, Howie has backed the Greenacres Curling Club in Howwood, where she trained in the past.

In 2022, Howie, also known under her married name Rhona Martin, skipped Britain's women's curling team to the nation's first gold medal in the Winter Olympics since Sarajevo 1984.

Debbie Knox, Fiona MacDonald and Janice Rankin were also part of the victorious team in Salt Lake City.

Fearing for the future of the rink, Howie has called on the Scottish Government to provide more financial help for businesses such as Greenacres.

"Scotland has been amazing on curling's world stage for many, many years - we've been so successful," Howie said to The Gazette.

"The thought of curling diminishing in the country is really worrying for me and, if rinks can't reopen because there is no financial support, we are in trouble as a sport."

Due to lockdown restrictions in place across Scotland, ice rinks have largely remained closed.

"The whole year has been uncertain and we fully understand the safety measures the Government have put in place but it's about looking forward to the future of curling in Scotland," Howie added.

Scottish Curling has stressed that without support from the Government, many rinks could be forced to close.

Greenacres Curling Club has been used for World Curling Federation events in the past ©WCF
Greenacres Curling Club has been used for World Curling Federation events in the past ©WCF

"Normally, we're really busy during the daytime at this time of year and, this season, we were expecting lots of curlers from elsewhere after the closure of the Braehead rink," Richard Harding, the owner of Greenacres, told The Gazette.

"It's so disappointing, as we went to great lengths to make sure people felt safe during the few weeks we were open - and I think we achieved that.

"The furlough scheme has been very helpful, there's no doubt about that, and Greenacres will open when we can but we need support to say sustainable when we're shut."

Greenacres has hosted World Curling Federation events in the past such as the 2019 World Mixed Doubles Qualification Event.

Scotland had been due to stage the World Mixed Curling Championship and Men's World Curling Championship in 2020, but bother cancelled because of the health crisis.

The nation last won the men's world title in 2009, women's in 2013 and mixed in 2017.

The Scottish Government has highlighted in response that is has offered support which now exceeds £2.3 billion ($3.09 billion/€2.55 billion) to businesses.