Team GB women’s curlers reach final to set up shot at golden Olympic weekend | Winter Olympics Beijing 2022

These Beijing Games may yet have a golden finale for Britain. After a barren opening fortnight, where the questions become more pointed by the day, Team GB’s women curlers on Friday joined their male counterparts in an Olympic final after a wild and glorious 12-11 semi-final victory over Sweden, which was only secured after at an extra end.

All four women were heroes, especially as they had to recover from going 4-0 down in the opening end. But Eve Muirhead’s remarkable final shot to score four in the ninth end, with Team GB 8-7 down, will live especially long in the memory.

While the Swedes recovered sufficiently to level the match at 11-11 on the 10th end, Britain then had the hammer (the final throw), and subsequently converted to seal a famous win. They will now play Japan, who beat Switzerland 8-6, in the final in the early hours of Sunday morning.

After victory was confirmed another member of the British quartet, Vicky Wright, did her own jig of delight. During the pandemic she was a Covid nurse helping to save the nation. Now she was helping doing the same for Team GB’s medal fortunes.

“I was a full-time nurse up until 2019 and I went part-time just one day a week,” she explained. “But when the pandemic hit, I went back to work full-time. We couldn’t train, we couldn’t do anything, and I trained as a nurse for a reason. So straight back to work full-time and when training started back up, in September, October, I tailored back my work.

“I have still worked the whole way through, just one day a week, a bit of free time. I finished on 6 January. I did nights over Christmas. I had Christmas off this year and worked Christmas Eve.”

Her attitude to curling is impressively balanced too. “I find myself very lucky that I have the best of both worlds,” she explained. “If I am having a bad day on ice, I will go into work and really get a perspective that my life is actually OK and there are a lot of people worse off than I am. If I am having a bad day at work, I have curling to focus on. I find it keeps me really grounded.”

As the dust settled Team GB’s head coach, David Murdoch, could only marvel at what he had seen from his women’s team on the ice – a performance that was even more remarkable given at one point they were struggling to qualify for these games.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” he said. “We didn’t get qualification from last year’s world championships. We adopted a completely new approach. The athletes bought into a squad system. They fought their hearts out. We selected this team and since then we’ve seen a European Championship win, Olympic qualification, and now we’re in the Olympic final.”

He also paid tribute to Muirhead, who has now guaranteed that she will do better than Sochi in 2014 when she helped Team GB take bronze.

“She’s a warrior, Eve,” said Murdoch. “She’s fought through four Olympics. She’s going to get another medal and a chance to win a gold medal. She’s been through a lot. She keeps coming out and keeps fighting and teams find her tough to beat. That showed the grit and resilience that Eve and the team has.

“And to come back from 4-0 down was unbelievable. Statistically that was almost gone.”

Asked how the team had revived itself, Murdoch puffed his cheeks out. “We were shell-shocked with that first end,” Murdoch added. “Eve came and spoke to me and and I just said: one end at a time. And we did that. We got the three back and that gave us such a lift.”

Meanwhile Muirhead, who had lost her previous two Olympic semi-finals, could not stop smiling. “Third time lucky,” she said. “It’s such a team game out there and all week we’ve really dug so deep and not just at this event.

“From the whole season, working as a squad of nine and then the Olympic qualifier. I’m pretty speechless right now, but what a moment. It sounds amazing to say we’re in an Olympic final.”

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