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Winter Olympics: Curlers determined to make amends

T he curling action gets under way in Sochi tomorrow, bringing with it two of Team GB's best medal chances.

The 10 Scots who make up the men's and women's teams all have world and European titles or medals and are determined to add to their collections.

Eve Muirhead from Blair Atholl and her team of third player Anna Sloan, second Vicki Adams, lead Claire Hamilton and alternate Lauren Gray, beat Sweden in last season's world final in Riga, Latvia, and they face the same team in their opening round-robin game tomorrow afternoon.

The teams also met in this season's European Champion-ships final when Sweden turned the tables, so Muirhead, 23, knows the Scots will be in for a tough examination.

"Opening against Sweden, I'm happy with that," she said. "Every game is going to be tough; there will be no walkover games and you've got to give every nation respect. It'll be good to kick off with one of the top favourites."

Muirhead skipped a different team four years ago in Vancouver, who under performed, but her Sochi team have been a unit for a long time, including when Muirhead landed a record-breaking four successive junior world titles.

"We've grown up together," she said. "We are best friends, but we're work colleagues as well, and I think we work that partnership very well. I feel really, really good going into Sochi, a lot more relaxed than I was for Vancouver. I have a team of four behind me who have put in just as much work. We all have the same goal, we've all trained together, we've all given up a lot and made the choice to do what we do.

"We know how to win major championships and we know we're one of the favourites, but as long as we come back with no regrets, that we've played the best we could, then we'll be happy."

The men will be first into action in the opening round-robin session in the morning. Lockerbie's David Murdoch leads the same line-up that took bronze in both the last World and European championships - Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow, with alternate Tom Brewster.

It is 35-year-old Murdoch's third Olympic appearance and although he has been world champion twice, world junior champion twice and European champion three times, he says: "You look at all the medals I've won and not one is an Olympic medal, so this is unfinished business."

Murdoch was disappointed with his achievements at the last two Olympics. He came fourth in Turin and fifth in Vancouver, having gone into that Games as reigning world champions.

He and his men practised at the Ice Cube Curling Centre yesterday for the second time in preparation for their tough opening day when they first face the hosts. An upset stomach led to Murdoch having a "rough night" and a meeting with the team doctor, but he was hoping for a good night's sleep so he is he able to avoid his customary slow start in a round-robin event.

"We need to start well," he said. "We've got Russia first, so it's going to be pretty noisy. Then it's the world champions, Sweden. If we can get a couple of wins there, then we're off to a flyer. When we're on form, we're dangerous. You train for four years for 12 games of curling and when we play well, we can take down any of the teams here. We've beaten them all in the past year."

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