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Chinese have Wang to pin their hopes on

Surprise medallists at the last Winter Olympics, Bingyu Wang's rink served notice that they are ready to challenge again in Sochi next month as they brushed aside one of the sport's most famous figures to win the Glynhill Ladies International at Braehead.

Bingyu Wang shows total concentration  on her way to victory  in the Glynhill Ladies International. Picture:  Leslie Ingram-Brown
Bingyu Wang shows total concentration on her way to victory in the Glynhill Ladies International. Picture: Leslie Ingram-Brown

In a year that may be highly significant for the sport - China hosts the men's world championships for the first time - the 30-year-old and her team proved too strong for Mirjam Ott's Swiss rink in last night's final.

Despite the absence of Eve Muirhead's world champions from the biggest annual event in their own country - they were contesting the glamorous Continental Cup in Las Vegas - the competition boasted a high-quality field and the cream duly rose to the top of the ice.

Last year's winners, skipped by Binia Feltscher - another of the six Swiss rinks among the 16 teams taking part - were joined in yesterday morning's semi-finals by all three of those heading on to the Winter ­Olympics after this event, and the defending champions were beaten 5-2 by their compatriots. Wang, meanwhile, got the better of Anna Sidorova's Russian rink 7-5 in the other semi-final and, albeit somewhat cautiously, acknowledged that beating two of her Olympic rivals had been a useful psychological boost this close to the Games.

"It is good for our confidence to beat a lot of good teams who are here," she said. "But, in terms of the Olympics, it means nothing because we were still making mistakes in that game and we still have some problems we have to deal with in practice. When we play in the Olympics every game will be tough."

Among the first wave of young Chinese curlers to emerge since the sport took hold there in the 1990s, Wang - who took up the sport in 2000 at the age of 16 - now leads one of the most experienced rinks in the competition with a decade's experience of playing together.

That, though, pales into insignificance compared with the knowhow beaten finalist Ott can bring to bear. Denied Olympic gold by Rhona Martin's 'stone of destiny' in 2002, before becoming the first woman to win a second Olympic curling medal when she was again beaten in the final in Turin in 2006, Ott won her first European title in 1996.

While Wang has clearly learned enough to know that she cannot afford to get ahead of herself as the Olympics loom, Ott went the other way in seeking to ensure that the right message was sent out to rivals that she and her rink are ready for Sochi. "Playing the final is always good and we had a really enjoyable three days here in Scotland," she said.

Ott noted that her rink had not been invited to Las Vegas because of last season's results, but suggested it may have been a blessing in disguise given the travelling that would have been involved. "We have had a good tournament season, we had a good European Championship and we know that the Olympics will be very close because there are a lot of very strong teams," she added.

"You cannot say who is going to make it to the semi-finals but it makes it interesting and we will fight."

Muirhead will be fully aware of the danger that Ott poses, after losing three matches to her in an invitation event at this same venue last month. For all that the Scot again showed some impressive form in the Continental Cup, defeat for the Swiss team this time around at Braehead is a reminder of the depth of competition they will face in Sochi.

In the end, Ott's rink were beaten fairly easily, too, since in spite of twice leading by two shots - after the first and third ends - they were forced to concede the match with two of the scheduled eight ends remaining after Ott's attempt to clear the three shots being held by her opponents wrecked on a guard to leave them 9-4 behind.

In Muirhead's absence, the other Scottish contenders struggled to make a significant impact, none of them making it through to the main competition after the pool matches on Friday. Both the rink skipped by Hannah Fleming - they lost to Muirhead in the final of last year's national championships - and that led by Jennifer Martin, daughter of former Olympic champion Rhona, failed to get through to yesterday's knockout stages of the ­consolation event.

Lorna Vevers' rink did make to that stage but she narrowly missed a chance to draw for the match at the final end of her rink's semi-final meeting with another of the Swiss rinks. Alina Paetz's team, yet another of the Swiss contingent, went on to win the final.

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