Lessons of 2014 will strengthen Eve Muirhead & Co in bronze battle

The pain of defeat shows in the faces of Lauren Gray, left, Vicki Adams and GB skip Eve Muirhead following their defeat by Sweden. Picture: PA.
The pain of defeat shows in the faces of Lauren Gray, left, Vicki Adams and GB skip Eve Muirhead following their defeat by Sweden. Picture: PA.
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Eve Muirhead will use the pain of past experience to motivate her for today’s Olympic curling bronze medal match against Japan.

Muirhead knows what it is like to lose an Olympic semi-final but she also knows what it is like to win the bronze 
medal match that follows.

Four years ago there were tears after failing at the final-four stage. This time it was more a case of steely resolve.

However, this is a must-win match on so many levels, for Muirhead, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray and Anna Sloan personally and for the team, if they hope to achieve the target five medals set for them by UK Sport here in Korea.

“I definitely don’t think it can harm us what we went through four years ago. We went through a semi-final loss and we came back strong to get the bronze medal,” said Muirhead.

“As a team, we know exactly what we did. From four years ago we learned a lot so we’re going to come out very strong and hopefully play well for that bronze.

“As the skip I’m gutted I missed a few shots out there but it happens, it’s sport.

“Japan lost a world final a couple of years ago. It’s going to be a tough game but we’ll come out strong.

“I’ve never said that I’m coming just for the gold. I’ve trained the last four years to come to an Olympics and a medal was the target. Of course we came up short, but we came up short against a strong Swedish team.

“We’ll take some time as that’s a disappointing loss but then we’ll move on.”

Bronze medal matches are the hardest to play, both teams coming in downbeat with confidence flagging. Unlike four years ago, there were no tears from Muirhead, perhaps because this was a match they were, in truth,
always chasing.

Sloan admitted the Swedes were the better team in the handful of clutch points in the three-hour match but, like her skip, she was determined to accentuate the positive.

“We’ve been here before, we know what it takes to lose a semi-final and win a bronze medal match,” she insisted.

“I think that gives us more perspective and I’m not going to dwell on this forever. We’ve got a massive match to win.”

In contrast, Japan’s skip Satsuki Fujisawa, who lost to Muirhead in the round robin stages, looked bereft after a final-end loss to Korean opposite number Eun Jung Kim, whose glare and funky glasses have become the subject for endless Internet memes.

If Korea is falling in love with the roaring game, over in Canada a national inquest has begun after their men’s team lost their bronze medal game to Switzerland yesterday.

Having made the podium in every Olympics since 1998 in both the men’s and women’s competition, Canada – where curling is a religion – are returning empty handed, though they did win gold in the mixed doubles event.

Muirhead’s Canadian coach Glenn Howard claims he is not surprised by the shifting tides of curling’s top nations and admitted disappointment at some of the comments aimed towards him from fans in his native land – with the word “traitor” temporarily added to his Wikipedia page.

“It’s a little bit disappointing if people are upset with me coaching Great Britain,” he said. “The game of curling is in great shape right now because of the parity across the world and to me, that makes it 
exciting.”

l Can Eve Muirhead win Britain’s fifth medal? Watch her curling bronze medal match live on Eurosport 2 at 11am today. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games at eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app