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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 04:14 GMT

Britain's golden moment

BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson savours Britain's golden moment at Ogden Ice Sheet

After 13 matches, lasting nearly three hours each, it came down to the last stone.

Ogden Ice Sheet erupted on Thursday tea-time when Britain's women curlers clinched the country's first Winter Olympic gold since Torvill and Dean 18 years ago.

Almost 2,000 fans crammed in to watch the intriguing game which was pure chess on ice.

Union Jacks and Scottish Flags were held aloft as the opposing fans rang their cowbells and shouted "up the Swiss."

The friendly banter continued throughout as supporters from both sides endured a rollercoaster of emotions.

The omens looked good when, after entering to pipers playing Scotland the Brave, Britain went 3-1 up.

But the Swiss pulled it back to 3-3 and with one end to go - all hearts in the stadium were pumping as the tension levels rose skywards.

Team GB top brass, including proud Scot Craig Reedie, chairman of the British Olympic Association, and Simon Clegg, chief executive, led the chants as they willed the girls on.

And a large proportion of the British athletes also wanted in on the act - they weren't going to miss this Olympic final for nothing.

Bronze medallist Alex Coomber, the women's bobsleigh team, luger Mark Hatton, speed skater Debbie Palmer - and of course Fiona MacDonald's husband Ewan, were whistling and cheering every time our girls blasted the Swiss stone or added another point to the scoreboard.

The curlers families were there too.

Janice Rankin's husband, mother and father watched intently, as did Fiona's proud dad, Martin Brown - albeit a lot more vocally.

Dressed in his kilt and waving a Union Jack - and a Scottish Flag - Brown kept on shouting: "Go lassies go."

The retired civil engineer told BBC Sport Online: "I'm speechless and very emotional.

"I've watched every game they've played. It's cost me a fortune in tickets but it has been worth it.

"I'll probably never get another chance to watch my girl in an Olympic final. This has been fantastic."

When Rhona Martin pulled off the perfect shot to win Olympic gold there were tears of delight from the British fans - and tears of despair for the despondent Swiss team.

There were also a few wet eyes among the hard-nosed British press - a rare sight to behold!

What an amazing achievement for Great Britain - and what an honour it was to share the golden moment.


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