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Page last updated at 20:32 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Rhona Martin tips Great Britain for double medals

Men's curling: Great Britain v Sweden
Venue: Vancouver, Whistler Date: Tuesday 16 February Start: Session 1 (1700 GMT); Session 2 (0300 GMT) Coverage: BBC Sport website and BBC Red Button


GB men hope for curling impact

Rhona Martin
By Rhona Martin
Olympic gold medal curler and BBC summariser

Most people are unaware I almost did not compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics.

I was suffering from a stomach complaint and unable to train for five days up to the start of the Games and it was only on the day of the opening ceremony itself I was given the go-ahead from the team doctor to be able to resume playing.

Going into the Salt Lake Games we were ranked sixth in the world so were not expected to win a medal but we knew if we played at our best we were capable of beating anyone and our first goal was to get through the round robin stage.

Britain's gold-medal winning curling team
"It seems a long time ago now, my medal is in the cupboard"

I thought we had been eliminated from the competition when we lost to Germany but we then beat Sweden and were able to gain revenge over Germany in two gruelling play-off matches to reach the last four.

The semi-final was against odds-on favourites Canada. It was an incredibly tense match which was tied at 5-5 going into the final end but we had the hammer and we came through it 6-5 to find ourselves in the Olympic final against Switzerland.

I remember the Canadian media were in shock when we won, it was a huge disaster for them - we were ecstatic of course.

Once we were in the final it never occurred to me that we had won at least a silver medal, I wanted the gold. We had one chance and I was determined not to blow it.

And as we all know it came down to the final stone - it was 3-3 after nine ends and we had the hammer.

"I would go as far to say I believe Britain will win medals in both men's and women's curling"

I was so focused I was oblivious to the crowd chanting and was not even thinking that this was for the gold.

The girls had done their job well but the Swiss stone was close to the button and there was a red guard blocking so I had to draw the stone round from the left, miss the Swiss guard and put the stone right in the centre of the house.

I remember feeling calm and composed as I released the stone and absolute relief and joy when we won.

But the achievement did not start to sink until the medal ceremony and then all the news conferences that followed and we couldn't comprehend that more than six million people had stayed up in Britain after midnight to watch us.

It seems a long time ago now, my medal is in the cupboard, and the team has disbanded.

Janice Rankin is now a full-time mum with four little ones, Fiona MacDonald is a business manager and like me, Debbie Knox is a curling coach.

Britain's Rhona Matin
Martin was flag bearer for Britain for the 2006 opening ceremony

We live all over Scotland so it's difficult to meet up but we have vowed to have a 10-year anniversary - so we've got two years left to plan it!

I'm here at these Olympics to commentate for the BBC on the event, which starts on Tuesday, and I am more nervous about this than I ever was competing.

But I am really looking forward to watching the competition and I would go as far to say I believe Britain will win medals in both men's and women's curling.

The men are the current world champions and have beaten Canada skip Kevin Martin on the last four occasions so they definitely have a psychological edge over him.

Eve Muirhead's video profile

And Kevin has failed on the big occasion before - in the Olympic final in 2002 and again at last year's World Championships - so it will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressure put on him as the host nation.

Great Britain skip David Murdoch is very cool and calm and mentally very strong and calls the game so well. Sweden, Norway and Canada are threats but the British team are very experienced and exceptionally good and could go all the way and win gold.

In the women's it is hard not to be impressed with Eve Muirhead . She is only 19 yet she has such a mature head on her shoulders and is so determined to win.

She is great at match tactics and knowing and understanding all the angles. China are the world champions and will be tough to beat but after that I believe Britain, Canada, Switzerland and Sweden are all closely matched.

I don't mean for this to sound like an awful curling pun but the British teams have left no stone unturned in their preparation and I cannot wait for the competition to start.

Rhona Martin was talking to Anna Thompson

Rhona Martin and the Great Britain curling team on their way to gold in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Archive - GB's curling golden girls

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see also
Event guide: Curling
12 Nov 09 |  Curling
Scotland win world curling title
13 Apr 09 |  Winter Sports
Murdoch expects GB curling medal
17 Dec 09 |  Vancouver 2010
Curling's homecoming queens
26 Feb 02 |  Curling

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