Great Britain’s women curlers ended a 12-year wait for Winter Olympic success by beating Switzerland 6-5 in their bronze medal match in Sochi.
Eve Muirhead’s all-Scottish rink shrugged off the disappointment of their semi-final defeat to Canada on Wednesday to secure the medal that at least equals GB’s best-ever Winter Olympic medal haul of 1924 – four – with a gold or silver to come from the men’s curling final against Canada today.
It was the first Olympic medal for British women curlers since their coach Rhona Howie – then Rhona Martin – skipped GB to gold at Salt Lake City in 2002.
And they had to come from behind to do it, not forging ahead until the eighth end.
Muirhead’s team took some time to get into their stride at the Ice Cube Curling Centre.
After a blanked first end, Mirjam Ott’s team took a two in the second to put GB on the back foot.
A double take-out in the third end by Switzerland ultimately led to Muirhead having to take just one point before passing the hammer – the last shot of each end which is normally decisive – over to Ott.
Another great double take-out, this time from Muirhead with her first shot in the fifth end, allowed GB to go into the interval level at 3-3.
Switzerland edged ahead again 4-3.
And Muirhead blanked the seventh to get another chance with hammer to go for two points to get in front for the first time in the game which they did.
But it was only after a measurement was used to confirm one of the British stones was indeed closer to the centre than the nearest one from Switzerland
GB went into the 10th end level but importantly with hammer which, in the end, provided Muirhead the opportunity to roll up the final stone with some ease to claim the historic victory.
A jubilant Muirhead said: “Words can’t describe it – it hasn’t quite sunk in but this is fantastic.
“It was a great game that could have gone either way.
“We were chasing a little bit in the first half but we stepped it up when we knew we had to.
“The girls were fantastic. I’m so happy.
“We’re all pushing each other and it makes it more fun to win something.”
Muirhead admitted the medal meant a lot after missing out in Vancouver four years ago.
She said: “It’s a massive lift. We have been successful and the one medal we were missing was the Olympic one and we’ve managed to get that.
“These girls have put in so much work.
“It’s great to know everyone wants it as much as each other. We all support each other and to finish the Olympic Games on a high makes it even more fun.
“We’re definitely going to go and enjoy these last couple of days, take in the experience and really enjoy it.”
Vice-skip Anna Sloan said: “It was a great team effort. The girls swept it really well and judged it to perfection.”
Lead Claire Hamilton admitted it had been difficult to bounce back from the semi-final defeat against Canada.
She said: “The last couple of days have been a complete mix of emotions.
“But we knew that the best thing was to put the other game behind us and come in fighting this morning, because we desperately wanted the medal.”