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Stone of destiny as Scots skip puts curlers into Olympics final

GREAT Britain's men's curling team will go for gold at the Winter Olympics tomorrow after beating Sweden 6-5 in a dramatic semi-final.

It was joy for Team GB's men, but agony for the women.
It was joy for Team GB's men, but agony for the women.

David Murdoch's all-Scottish rink were dancing on ice last night after he conjured up a last-gasp shot to win the match and guarantee a place in the final against Canada - and at least a silver medal.

But there was heartbreak for fellow Scot Eve Muirhead's team who lost their women's semi-final against Canada, dashing hopes of a British clean sweep of gold medals. The women now go head to head against Switzerland this morning in a bronze medal play-off.

The men's triumph in the Russian resort of Sochi means TeamGB have equalled their best medal haul at the Winter Olympics with at least one gold, one silver and one bronze medal already won.

After the match, Murdoch said all thoughts would now turn to facing defending champions Canada in Friday's gold medal match.

The 35-year-old Lockerbie-born skip said: "We are going to enjoy the moment because it is out­rageous we are in the final. We believe in ourselves, we are forcing the pressure on the opposition and that is what we will do in the final."

Britain's hopes appeared to be sliding away as the went into the final end against Sweden trailing 5-4. But when the Swedish skip Niklas Edin came up short with his final stone the stage was set for Murdoch to grab glory.

The Scot, who had a thrilling last-stone win in the tie-break against Norway, stayed cool under pressure and was again bang on the money, sending the small knot of British fans into raptures.

Murdoch lost the bronze medal match to the United States at the 2006 Olympics in Turin and was knocked out in a tie-break by Sweden at Vancouver 2010, so he savoured yesterday's triumph.

He took time out from speaking about his joy and delight to remember the people from his home town, forever to be assoc­iated with December 21, 1988 when PanAm Flight 103 crashed down, a horror scene which - as a 10-year-old - he witnessed from his father's car.

All 259 on board the plane destroyed by a terrorist bomb were killed, while 11 residents of Lockerbie also died.

"I'm proud to be from Lockerbie," he said. "It was the (25th) anniversary recently and you have to never forget what happened there.

"It's an important anniversary and I'm sure we are going to have them all cheering us on."

He said the team could hardly believe they had reached the final, adding: "It's incredible, I cannot describe the feeling. We have trained so hard for this and made a lot of sacrifices and it has paid off. I am so proud of the guys and we have worked tirelessly for the last few years."

The popularity of curling has shot up as the two teams have progressed, rekindling memories of Rhona Martin's all-Scottish women's team's triumph in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Following the men's match cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, the Olympic Games six-time gold medallist, tweeted: "That was awesome! Got to feel sorry for the Swedish bloke though, who had a nightmare at the end there."

Eve Muirhead was philosophical about her team's defeat, saying they had tried their best and vowing not to relax in her pursuit of a medal even though the chance of a top-place finish was gone.

She said: "I came into this tournament saying I wanted no regrets and we gave everything we could in that game.

"I'm proud of the girls and we've still got a chance of a medal. I don't want to come away without a medal around my neck."

l Two freed members of the Pussy Riot protest band have claimed they have been whipped by a Cossack patrol in Sochi. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who had been previously jailed for singing songs against President Vladimir Putin, said the assault took place as the band tried to perform a song.

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