Winter Olympics Curling: Inside the men's Team GB
David Murdoch is the British skipper
Mike Haggerty is in Vancouver to report on the fortunes of one of Team GB's best Gold Medal chances. Here, he chats to the men's team about being World Champions, staying ice-cool under pressure and a mouth-watering showdown with the hosts.
“Having come so close in Turin, we’ve been desperate to get back to the Olympics to try to put the finish straight by winning the gold medal we’ve been working so hard for”.
The men's curling team is arguably Team GB's strongest gold medal hope in Vancouver, but although they are the reigning world champions, they don't consider themselves to be favourites.
Thirty-one-year-old David Murdoch from Lockerbie is the British skip and he says that, in curling-crazy Canada, the home team starts as favourites, particularly as the strongest Canadian team of recent years, led by Edmonton's Kevin Martin, has emerged as Canada's reps.
This was the team that Murdoch and his men - third Ewan MacDonald, second Pete Smith, lead Euan Byers and alternate Graeme Connell - sensationally beat three times last April to grab their second world crown. Murdoch's men then swept Martin aside again last month at a major televised cash-game in Ontario, pocketing over $70,000 in the process.
But despite all that, Murdoch still sees Martin as top dog. "This is a chance to play Kevin again in the biggest arena of them all" he said. "Our recent record against him might be pretty good, but we lost to him in the world final in 2008 - a decider in the Olympic final would be nice".
At this level, curling competitions involve 10 teams playing each other in round-robin format, with the top four battling out semi-finals and then medal games. The Canada/Britain showdown has been timetabled for the mid-Saturday night of the Games and will be the biggest show in town.
Murdoch, who is ice-cold under pressure whenever the curling tension rises, says: "The crowd will be jumping when we play him in the round-robin - that'll be fun". However, he also has a word of warning: "That's going to be one big game, but we need to make sure we win the majority of our other games".
And Murdoch's need to win starts in the first round. The British quartet open (on Tuesday 16th) against Sweden's Niklas Edin, who snatched Murdoch's European crown in December in Aberdeen. In that Championship, Murdoch's team were going for the fourth European title but finished fourth, knocked out of the medals by Switzerland's Marcus Eggler, another medal contender.
Four years ago, at the Turin Winter Olympics, Murdoch's team also finished fourth, and that result has been playing on their minds ever since. Third player Ewan MacDonald explains, "Having come so close in Turin, we've been desperate to get back to the Olympics to try to put the finish straight by winning the gold medal we've been working so hard for". The waiting is nearly over.
Latest Men's Curling Gold Medal Odds: Canada [1.72], Great Britain [5.5], Norway [6.6], Sweden [12.0], USA [15.0], Switzerland [18.5], Germany [20.0], China [32.0], Denmark [40.0], France (No odds yet)