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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 18:20 GMT

Martin's near miss

Send your tributes to GB golden girls

BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson talks to the curling gold medallists.

Great Britain curling skip Rhona Martin almost missed the Winter Olympics because of a stomach problem.

The gold medallist, who delivered the stone of destiny, spent time in hospital a week before the Salt Lake City Games began.

"We could have brought in a replacement but that would have been a huge problem"
Mike Hay
GB team manager

She was away from the rest of her team-mates for three days while she underwent medical tests.

And curling bosses were so concerned, they considered bringing in a replacement from Scotland.

Martin told BBC Sport Online: "I was worried for a wee while I wouldn't be able to play.

"It was hard on the girls because they had to practise without me."

Martin, a 35-year-old mother-of-two from Dunlop, took ill at the Team GB holding camp in Calgary.

She was taken to the Olympic medical facilities in Salt Lake City to try to sort the problem out.

Martin said: "I'd rather not disclose what the problem was but it will have to be sorted out when I get back home."

Team manager Mike Hay said: "It was hard to separate Rhona from the rest of the team for three days but we took the decision this would be in the best interests.

"We could have brought in a replacement but that would have been a huge problem because she would never have played with the rest of the team.

"We would not have done well if this was the case."

Martin is still trying to get used to all the attention - and she was amazed when she heard nearly six million people tuned into watch the curling final on BBC television.

She said: "It is a great boost for the sport but I'm glad I didn't know at the time how many people were watching at the end!"

The curlers had a mini champagne celebration after receiving their medals before heading off for bed.

Margaret Morton slept with her medal on the pillow, Debbie Knox kept hers on the bedside table while Martin hung it up with her jacket - so she did not forget it in the morning!

They will remain in Utah until Tuesday when they fly home to family, friends - and more media attention.

Knox added: "We've had lots of faxes, e-mails and text messages from well-wishers. We've also had a letter congratulating us from Prince Charles."

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