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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 12:52 GMT

Stone of the Week

Forget Goal of the Week, BBC Sport Online has chosen our "Stone of the Week", in honour of Britain's victorious women curlers in Salt Lake City.

It was the sort of stone Rhona Martin had played hundreds of times at Greenacres Ice Rink in Glasgow without a care in the world.

But this was the final of the Winter Olympics and at stake for her all-Scottish team was Britain's first gold medal for 18 years.

With the scores tied at 3-3 in the final end, and with 15 of the 16 stones already played, the tense competition had come down to the very last stone - known in the trade as the hammer.

"I knew it would come off the inside but it also had to be dead roll weight and I hadn't played one like that for a wee while"
Rhona Martin

Either Martin played an inch-perfect stone to steal the end from her Swiss rivals, or she and her teammates would have to settle for silver.

With Switzerland's red stone lying tantalisingly close to the button - the inner circle - and a red guard blocking her path to glory, the British skip had only one choice.

She would have to draw the stone round from her left, missing the Swiss guard and placing the yellow stone right in the centre of the house.

After a lengthy consultation with her teammates, she took up her final position with a smile on her face and prepared to send the stone on its way down the Ogden Ice Sheet.

Martin slid forward, took aim and released.

As the stone moved slowly down the ice, its handle rotating in a clockwise direction to achieve the required curl, the nation waited with bated breath.

There was the usual shouting of instructions, but the lack of panic in the voices of the British team indicated things were looking good.

The stone continued on its way, bending gently in towards the centre of the house without the need for any frantic sweeping.

But would it be enough?

Contact on the wrong side of the Swiss stone would have risked knocking it straight on to the British stone behind it and leaving it in a winning position.

But Martin's calculations had been perfect.

The yellow stone connected just right of centre and, as its enemy went slightly left, it glided perfectly into place in the button.

Cue huge celebrations from Martin and her teammates Debbie Knox, Janice Rankin, Fiona MacDonald and Margaret Morton - and tears all round from the disconsolate Swiss.

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

"I knew it would come off the inside but it also had to be dead roll weight and I hadn't played one like that for a wee while.

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

"I couldn't see it because of the sweepers' legs, but I knew it was good when they jumped in the air."


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