sport

Murdoch thrilled to reach final

Great Britain skip David Murdoch could only describe guaranteeing his first Winters Olympic medal after 12 years of effort as "outrageous".

The 35-year-old, who 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, was under even more pressure at the Ice Cube Curling Center after the GB women's curling team had lost to Canada in their last-four game earlier in the day.

However, in the final throw of 10 compelling ends, the Lockerbie-born skip replicated his thrilling last-stone win in the tie-break against Norway to set up a final appearance against Canada on Friday, where he will be assured of a silver medal at least.

"It is just outrageous," he said.

"I can't believe it. It's 12 years of dedicating your life to a sport.

"To get up, to beat your body up, to go through injuries, to train hard, to make a lot of sacrifices.

"I can't believe after all those years we are in a final now. It pays off eventually."

Murdoch 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 Pan-Am 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."

The good people of the small Scottish Borders town would surely have forgiven one of their favourite sons - who these days lives in Stirling - for revelling in his achievement, and he revealed the experience of coming close in two Olympics helped his journey to the final in Russia.

"To be honest I think experience has been a big factor," he said.

"Having that experience of the two near misses, Turin and Vancouver, I think that helped me set up my play all week, to keep a cool head.

"And for young guys at 24 and 25, to be performing like that is just incredible. I take my hat off to them, it's so good they believe in themselves and we believe in ourselves as a team."

Asked how important the colour of his medal is to him, Murdoch replied: "Well, I want the gold, there's no doubt about that.

"You get this opportunity once in a lifetime and it's up to us to really seize the day, and if we do that we are Olympic champions and that's incredible history.

"I'm delighted to be in the final and delighted to get the medal that I have chased for so long, but we want the gold and we'll be pushing everything to get that.

"I hope it's our time. The curling gods have been looking down on me nicely this week and it makes a change.

" We have to go out there with confidence and no fear, go for it and believe it. If we play well then we've got every chance."

Earlier in the day, the prospect of double gold for GB in curling was scuppered when the women's team lost 6-4 to Canada in their semi-final tie.

Skip Eve Muirhead claimed the curling Gods were against her team after a stray brush hair contributed to a poor start from which they never really recovered.

Muirhead missed a take-out after her stone deviated on the ice after going over the bit of debris, which allowed the Canadians to grab a two-shot lead.

Perhaps more significantly, Canadian skip JenniferJones stole one more in the next end to ask early questions of the British rink to which, ultimately, they had no answer.

There was some pressure on Jones in the final throw of the game with Canada winning 5-4 but she was unerring in her draw to increase the margin of victory and take her team into Thursday's final against Sweden, who beat Switzerland in the other semi-final.

GB will battle against the Swiss for bronze on Thursday with Muirhead determined to take it back from Russia.

However, she claimed bad luck was the last thing she needed against an in-form Canadian side who have won every one of their 10 games in Sochi.

" I am gutted and the girls are gutted as well," she said.

"I just don't think that the curling Gods were with us.

"That first end, that pick-up was brutal.

"It was a hair from one of the brushes, it just caught the stone.

"There is nothing you can do when a you get a little bit of debris on the ice but losing a two from something that you can't control against Canada, it's going to be tough to come back.

"We did come back but anything we left them, they made today. Sport is tough sometimes, sport can be brutal."