In Focus

Winter Olympics: ‘disaster averted’ for Team GB as curling stars win medals 

Team GB finished a disappointing games with just two medals

A spectacular celebration and fireworks display brought the Winter Olympics to an end at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing yesterday. For Team GB, though, the final weekend of the games produced a huge sigh of relief as British competitors finally won some medals. 

Having set off to Beijing with a target of between three and seven medals, they won just two, both in curling. On Saturday the men’s team led by Bruce Mouat had to settle for silver after losing to Sweden, then yesterday Eve Muirhead’s women’s curlers crushed Japan 10-3 to claim gold. 

Team GB had their curlers to thank for a “disaster averted” at Beijing 2022, said Matt Majendie in the London Evening Standard. But once the glow of those medals fade, “it will be difficult to judge these Winter Olympics as much more than a disappointment”. 

‘No knee-jerk decisions’

As the Winter Olympics progressed, “anxiety began to grow that Team GB might not return home from Beijing with a medal at all”, said Richard Newman on Eurosport. Instead, the “euphoria of a golden moment right at the end” reminded us what the Games are all about. “Now it is down to UK Sport to decide whether it wants more of the same.”

The body, which is responsible for supporting Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes, admitted that the Beijing medal return was “disappointing”. However, it insisted that the £28m funding for winter sports would not be slashed after the underwhelming Olympics, the Daily Mail reported. 

Now is not the time to make “knee-jerk reactions or knee-jerk decisions”, said UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday. “The last two weeks have not altered our ambition to become an ever greater force in winter sport. These games have been a setback in Great Britain’s Olympic success story. We’ve taken some blows. We will go away, we will lick our wounds.”

Dreams come true for Muirhead

The 50-strong Team GB “faced flying home without podium honours to show for their efforts”, said Shekhar Bhatia in the Daily Mail. “But within the space of 24 hours, the curlers showed how it is done.”

A day after the men’s team won the silver medal, Britain then celebrated a “golden finish”, the BBC said. The women’s curling team – skip Eve Muirhead, Jennifer Dodds, Vicky Wright, Hailey Duff and alternate Mili Smith – went into yesterday’s final as favourites against Japan and “they were ruthless”. 

It is Team GB’s first curling gold medal for 20 years: Muirhead follows in the footsteps of Rhona Martin who topped the podium in Salt Lake City in 2002. Competing in her fourth Olympic Winter Games, Muirhead added a gold to the bronze she won at Sochi 2014. 

After “heart-breaking near misses and career-saving surgery on an arthritic hip”, Muirhead finally has her Olympic curling gold medal, the BBC said. And it’s “a fitting prize” for the 31-year-old from Stirling, Bhatia added in the Mail. 

“I have waited a long time,” Muirhead said. “Dreams do come true, and it’s all thanks to these girls who have helped me get here, and helped me become a better curler, a better person. Finally we have managed to get that Olympic gold and yeah, it just doesn’t feel real.”

Coming hours before the closing ceremony, the “best moment of the games for Britain” happened “while most of us were asleep”, Newman said on Eurosport. “It was a shame that Eve Muirhead’s redemption after her agony at previous Olympics was not witnessed live by a mass British audience.”

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