TOM Brewster achieved a lifetime's ambition when he walked into the Olympic Stadium last night, but he admits his main challenge in Sochi now is to ensure he keeps the smile on his face.
He has been named as the alternate for the Great Britain men's curling team, a watching brief best described as being invited to the party but not allowed to dance.
Alongside Scott Andrews, Greg Drummond and Michael Goodfellow, Brewster skipped Scotland to world championship silver medals in 2011 and 2012 and seemed to be on course to achieve his Olympic dream at the fifth time of asking.
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David Murdoch, the two-time world champion, added muscle to the rink last season but they still played, and even Tweeted, as Team Brewster, even when the three-time Olympian assumed skipping duties.
However, five into four clearly doesn't go and the rotation policy stopped this season with Brewster apparently happy to support Murdoch as third, an arrangement which won the team bronze at the recent European Championships.
He is now out of the picture and watching from the stands and his face in Sochi yesterday, momentarily at least, didn't hide his obvious disappointment. "I'm the unlucky one," he said. "Any of the five of us could be sitting where I am.
"We chose to bring David on to bring some experience and get us in the position to be here. We've realised that taking to the ice with the same four players is beneficial as opposed to chopping and changing between five guys which we did last season - that just didn't work for us. But let's be frank, these guys wouldn't be here unless I was part of the team. I've been on the long journey with this rink just to reach this point. I'm disappointed but it's important I don't mope. I have to be positive for the other guys. We're a team, we're very close and if you are dragging down the mood it will effect the whole squad."
Brewster admits it will be hard to watch if Murdoch - at the third time of asking - finally delivers on his podium potential. British men's rinks have arrived at the last five Games considered serious medal contenders but a fourth place in Turin eight years ago remains the best return.
"We've won three world medals in the last three years and that says all you need to know about this team. The truth is we should be medalling here," added Brewster, 39, who skipped Scotland to the world junior title in 1995 with Murdoch as his alternate.
"If we won a medal it would be a bittersweet feeling but I'm not done yet. If you look back at previous Olympic Games, people in their late forties have won gold and this just makes me want it more. It took me four finals and more than 10 years before I won my first Scottish title and it's the same feeling I have now.
"Injury, illness or bad form could happen at any time. I'll be on ice every day practicing and I'm fit and ready to play, if I'm needed but I can't do anymore than I've done."
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