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  Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 14:46 GMT
Curlers' amazing year
The GB gold medal curling team

This time last year Rhona Martin and her team were busily preparing for the Winter Olympics.

They knew they had a good chance of a medal but outside the sport of curling they were unknown to the general public.

But that all changed in February when the curling team won Olympic gold - Britain's first Winter Games gold medal since Torvill and Dean 18 years before.

Nearly six million Brits stayed up after midnight to watch the Olympic final from Salt Lake City and share in the celebrations.

Team member Janice Rankin told BBC Sport Online: "It didn't really hit us that we had won gold until we got to the medals plaza.

"It was all a bit of a blur in the ice rink but when we stood up on the podium and saw thousands of people it was a proud moment."

The team, Martin, Rankin, Debbie Knox, Fiona MacDonald, and reserve Margaret Morton were unaware how the sport had captured the public's imagination.


We are not in it for the money. We do it for the love of the sport
Debbie Knox

But when they touched down at Heathrow it all became clear as they were cheered off the plane.

And since then it has been a whirlwind of public appearances and award ceremonies not to mention meeting the Queen to receive their MBEs.

Martin has been far the busiest.

She has had a red begonia named after her, enjoyed Royal Box treatment at Wimbledon, appeared on television's A Question of Sport and Ready Steady Cook and will be seen in a Christmas edition of The Weakest Link, along with other Olympic medallists.

But despite their success, it has not made them rich and they are all still working.

Martin is a curling coach and Knox is a customer services rep at insurance giant Standard Life.

Knox told BBC Sport Online: "We are not in it for the money. We do it for the love of the sport."

MacDonald is a Bank of Scotland account manager and made the decision to retire from competitive curling after the Olympics because she could not get enough time off work.

She said: "That was the hardest decision of my life."

The popularity of the sport soared after the Olympics and the team are aiming for it to continue.

Award contenders

England will get its first specially built rink when one opens in Cambridge in the next few months.

And the sport will be back on prime-time TV on Sunday 1 December when Team Martin takes on reigning World Champions, Scotland's Team Lockhart in Braemar.

Sunday Grandstand will screen the showdown live from 1350 GMT on BBC Two.

And there could be more accolades coming the team's way.

They are contenders for the 2002 BBC Sports Personality of the Year team award.

They will find out if that is another award to add to their collection when the winner is announced on 8 December.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Rhona Martin
"It's fabulous so many people watched"
Janice Rankin
"It was all a bit overwhelming"
Debbie Knox
"It's been very busy"
See also:

26 Nov 02 | Other Sports
22 Feb 02 | Curling
22 Feb 02 | Photo Galleries
Links to more Other Sports stories are at the foot of the page.


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