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Last Updated: Monday, 20 February 2006, 20:58 GMT
British women curlers knocked out
British skip Rhona Martin
Martin saw her title dreams shattered
Rhona Martin's British women curling team saw their Olympic title defence end in dramatic style despite a 10-4 win over the USA in their final match.

The victory had given Britain an outside chance of making a play-off place for the last four.

But Martin's side still needed Canada to be beaten by Denmark, and the Canadians clinched a nail-biting win.

The unfancied Danes levelled at 8-8 going into the last end, before Canada edged a 9-8 last-stone triumph.

Martin had almost half an hour to dream of a great escape having saved her biggest win of the competition for the final group game, easing past her inexperienced opponents with four ends to spare.

I am gutted that I will not be able to defend my title
Rhona Martin
But while she watched the already eliminated Danes put up a fight in a topsy-turvy tussle, the favoured Canadians gradually got on top.

Canadian skip Shannon Kleibrink kept her nerve with the last stone to seal Britain's fate.

"We were just not consistent enough in every game and you can't do that at this level of competition," the 39-year-old Martin said.

"I'm gutted that I will not be able to defend my title."

Rhona Martin and Lynn Cameron watch the Canada-Denmark match
Martin and team-mate Lynn Cameron watch Canada triumph
Martin led Britain to a famous triumph at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, but she admitted new selection procedures made it difficult for the 2006 team to gel.

Britain selected their curlers on an individual basis for the Turin Games, choosing the top five rather than a team already formed around the skip.

"I have said all along we have not played enough games together as a team and had we had a month longer to get to know each other it might have been different," said Martin.

"But hindsight is a wonderful thing and we have got to move on. I said before we came here that if we got to the semi-finals we'd be doing well."

Head coach Mike Hay was not certain any extra time would have paid dividends.

"Maybe the team could have got together earlier but who knows, the girls already knew each other and they had some good performances in this competition," he said.

We knew our destiny was in our own hands - I'm just glad we did it
Canada skip Shannon Kleibrink
Martin said her international career was not necessarily over.

"There is no point feeling sorry for yourself and now we will all look forward to playing against each other in the Scottish Championships next week," she said.

"It is not over till the fat lady sings - and I ain't singing yet."

Canada will now face Switzerland in Wednesday's semi-final with Sweden facing Norway in the other half of the draw. The final takes place on Thursday.

"I am glad we had that last stone because it was not shaping up all that great for us," said Canada skip Shannon Kleibrink.

"We did not know the other results to be honest but we knew our destiny was in our own hands. I am just glad we did it."




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