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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 04:21 GMT

Golden glory for Britain's curlers

Great Britain 4-3 Switzerland

Great Britain's women curlers secured the country's first Winter Olympics gold medal for 18 years with victory in an incredibly tense final at the Ogden Ice Sheet.

The British team, led by skipper Rhona Martin, clinched the title and a place in history with the last stone of the final end.

"I was just panicking on the last stone"
A relieved Rhona Martin after the final

Martin, backed by Fiona MacDonald, Margaret Morton, Janice Rankin and Debbie Knox, are the first British Winter Games gold medallists since Torvill and Dean back in 1984.

Scottish curler Martin needed nerves of steel to knock out a Swiss counting stone at the climax of the final, but she managed to pull it off.

Her own stone then finished up close to the centre of the rink and that was enough to seal a 4-3 triumph.

Self-belief

"I was just panicking on the last stone," Martin admitted afterwards.

"It was just a case of having faith that I could I do it.

"We had to keep it a close game to have a chance and we were always in control."

MacDonald added: "All the hard work we've put in has paid off.

"Everyone in Britain applauds their guts and determination"
Minister for Sport Richard Caborn

"We know each other so well and we've been together for a few years now.

"We've been living in each other's pockets for nine months now and we know each other so well."

Swiss error

Martin had earlier fired the Brits into a narrow 2-1 lead at the close of the fifth end with a double after successfully taking out a Swiss counting stone.

A mistake by the Swiss during end seven increased that advantage to 3-1 before they struck back to tie the scores with singles in ends eight and nine.

Minister for Sport Richard Caborn said: "Everyone in Britain applauds their guts and determination right down to the last stone.

"It's great news that the UK team will be bringing an Olympic gold medal back to the birthplace of the sport."


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