Eve Muirhead and her curling team’s win over Japan (a rematch of the match for-bronze four years ago) in the final of the women’s curling competition saw Great Britain avoid the ignominy of leaving these Beijing Olympic Winter Games without a gold medal.
The PyeongChang 2018 bronze medal-winning Japanese team – who struggled from the start and had no answer to the smashing performance of Muirhead, Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds and Hailey Duff – had to content themselves with the silver medal while Sweden – who beat Switzerland yesterday – finished the marathon curling competition with bronze.
“It will be a long, long time before this sinks in,” said Dodds after the match and Team GB's first 2022 gold medal -- earned on the last day of the Beijing Games.
“What a performance out there today," added skip Muirhead. "We saved our best game till last. It’s been a long time coming and I think for us as a team we’ve worked so hard to get here. I’m just so proud of them all.”
“We were really confident going into that game," added Wright, who was outstanding on the day. "We prepared the exact same way we had prepared for every game and we just went out there and gave it our best.”
Team GB, led by a commanding performance from Wright, jumped out to an early lead at the National Aquatics Centre (known as the ‘Ice Cube’ for these Winter Games). Skip Muirhead knocked out a Team Japan rock with the hammer (the last shot of an end) to leave two stones nearest the button and her team with a 0-2 lead heading into the second end.
Japan’s skip Fujisawa Satsuki pulled one back in the second end (1-2), missing the chance to draw level with the hammer before a blank third end saw Muirhead and Team GB keep the hammer for the fourth.
The Japanese, who were over-curling often and missing shots you'd expect them to make, got the hammer back in the fifth end, with Team GB leading 1-3. But even so, Muirhead's team stole another point to make it 1-4 heading into the mid-match break.
Great Britain, who'd already beaten Japan in the round robin stage of these Games, continued to cruise into the seventh end as things began to look decidedly bleak for the Asian side. Muirhead – competing in her fourth Olympics – put her side into a commanding lead with a full four-point haul in the seventh end to make the lead 2-8 and put one foot on the top spot of the podium.
The Japanese pulled a single point back in the eighth to head into the ninth down five points (3-8). But that was to be the end of their fightback and they conceded defeat with the score at 3-10 in favour of Team GB at the end of the ninth end.
The women’s curling competition ends with Team GB making history on top of the podium. The last women's curling gold won by Great Britain came 20 years at the Salt Lake City Games of 2022.
“It feels bizarre, to be honest," added Muirhead before putting the victory into historical context. "To think it was 20 years ago when Rhona Martin made history in Great Britain by winning that gold medal. We’ve followed in her footsteps and done it 20 years later. It’s incredible, it really is.”
The women’s podium placers – Team GB (gold), Japan (silver) and Sweden with the bronze – join the top-three in the men’s competition (Sweden - gold, Great Britain - silver and Canada - bronze) as the Beijing 2022 curling events draw to a close.
Women’s curling final results
- 1 - Great Britain
- 2 - Japan
- 3 - Sweden