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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 12:29 GMT

GB curlers no overnight sensation

By BBC Sport Online's Daniel Warren

The women's curling team has brought much-needed glory to Great Britain's beleaguered Winter Olympians, delivering the first gold since 1984.

Yet despite their fabulous achievement, the team led by skip Rhona Martin have received some less than complimentary coverage in the run-up to their win.

The athletes have been referred to, somewhat patronisingly, as housewives and broom pushers - chiefly by those who refuse to take curling seriously.

Now, while some of Team Martin's members are indeed married - and do push brooms - is the label fair?

"This is not something that the average housewife could achieve through a few afternoons' work"
Motivational expert Dr Will Holden

After all, it wasn't "husband and oar puller" Steve Redgrave who landed gold in Sydney, was it?

The Scottish Team Martin has been together for seven years.

And its members have shown the sort of dedication and commitment which is always necessary to land Olympic gold, whatever the sport.

Mike Hay, Scottish Institute of Sport Curling Coach and Olympic Team Coach said: "Both our men's and women's teams have made huge sacrifices and committed themselves over the last four years."

Dedication

That commitment has extended to touring Canada to play against the world's best curlers - with mixed results.

Team Martin has also linked up with Edinburgh University to help understand the science of curling.

It is far from a sedate sport - 30 seconds of intense brushing tires people very quickly. Shortly afterwards, competitors have to display a steady hand to launch their next stone.

The team members have taken time out from their jobs thanks to funding from Sport Scotland to dedicate themselves to curling.

And they even enlisted the help of motivation specialists Sewells Training and Consultancy.

Sewells chairman Dr Will Holden explained: "Fiona (MacDonald) saw her boss come back from a course we run called 'Working Miracles'.

"Fiona called us up and said 'I'm a member of the Olympic curling team. If the team could get some of what he's on it would be great!'"

Holden said he was impressed by the team's dedication.

"They were fabulous students. And I don't want to take the credit for their win, as they worked for many months and we worked with them for two days.

Intense

"The thing that impressed me more than anything was that once they came to terms with their potential, their level of desire was awesome "

"Their training programme was really intense.

"They're very focussed athletes. What they have achieved is not something that the average housewife could achieve through a few afternoons' work."

Clearly, this is no bunch of half-baked house-making quasi-athletes.

Indeed if the collection of fathers, home-makers and car buyers which make up England's football team prepare half as well as Team Martin, who's to say there won't be another charming success story this summer...?


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