THE WOMEN’S CURLING team won Great Britain’s first Gold medal at a Winter Olympics since 1984 with victory over Switzerland in a dramatic final on Thursday.
The quartet’s chances of even reaching the knockout stages seemed to be dead and buried earlier in the competition when they lost a vital group game to Germany. Ironically it then took a win by the Swiss, against the Germans, to hand Rhona Martin’s team a lifeline and send them into a three-way play-off for the remaining spot in the last four – a chance they gratefully accepted.
Having knocked out reigning champions Canada in the semi-finals, the British team entered Thursday’s clash in good spirits with a win against Switzerland in the round-robin stages already under their belt.
But it was the Swiss who edged ahead first in a low-scoring final, taking a stone in the fourth end. Team Martin responded immediately as they have done ever since entering the play-offs, scoring a double at the close of the next end to move into a 2-1 lead, which they extended to 3-1 after a Swiss mistake during end seven.
WITH THREE ends to play, Britain’s first Gold medal since Torvill and Dean wowed the skating judges in Sarajevo 18 years ago was on the cards, but an incredibly tense final still had a further twist in its tail as Switzerland hit back to square the match at 3-3.
Crucially Britain possessed the hammer – the last stone – in the tenth and final end. Martin held her nerve to land an inch-perfect final stone in the centre of the house to secure a 4-3 win.
"To win a Gold medal is the most unbelievable feeling," said Martin afterwards. "It was so close but we were always in control and pulled through as a team when it really mattered."
Team-mate Fiona MacDonald added: "We have put in so much hard work and effort we have got what we came here for. We have been together for three years and now it has paid off."
The quartet – Martin, MacDonald, Debbie Knox and Janice Rankin, plus reserve Maggie Morton - were presented with their Gold medals in a ceremony at Medals Plaza in downtown Salt Lake City last night by Craig Reedie, Chairman of the British Olympic Association and Deputy Chairman of UK Sport.