Winter Olympics 2022 women's curling final: Eve Muirhead urges nation to stay up and watch gold medal match

Eve Muirhead urged the nation to set their alarms as she booked her place in the Olympic curling final with a victory even her coach admitted defied the odds.

Left to right, Great Britain's coach David Murdoch speaks to Jennifer Dodds, Eve Muirhead, Vicky Wright and Hailey Duff during the match against Sweden. They face Japan in the final.
Left to right, Great Britain's coach David Murdoch speaks to Jennifer Dodds, Eve Muirhead, Vicky Wright and Hailey Duff during the match against Sweden. They face Japan in the final.

It's two decades since 5.6 million viewers stayed up past midnight to watch Rhona Martin deliver her 'Stone of Destiny' to claim curling gold in Salt Lake City.

Muirhead's final with Japan – a revenge match after a last-ditch defeat in the bronze medal game four years ago – will start at 1am. So, perhaps, just don't bother going to bed.

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Britain have never won two gold medals at the same Winter Olympics but in the space of just 24 hours this weekend, men’s skip Bruce Mouat and Muirhead will have the chance to write their own history. Curling really could be coming home.

Muirhead in action during the semi-final.

"I’m buzzing to know people are going to be up watching us and that gives us an extra boost to make everyone proud back," said Muirhead, 31.

"I remember 20 years ago staying up to watch Rhona win that medal. You dream of doing the same and I know the other girls here did exactly that, let’s hope we have the whole of Britain behind us again.

"I’m not sure it’s really sunk in just yet but I’ve got every gold medal, apart from the Olympic one. Of course, there have been times when you doubt whether you’ll get the chance but here we are.

"We fought for our spots here, we showed we’ve got so much talent as a team, we’ve got so much drive and fight, it’s an absolute dream come true. I’m pretty speechless to be honest.

Great Britain's Eve Muirhead (left), Hailey Duff, Vicky Wright and Jennifer Dodds celebrate victory.

"The strength of the field here is incredible, I remember looking at the draw and you couldn't tick anyone off, it was scary. We've proven we can be the best team in the world and now we get the chance to play for that Olympic gold medal."

Muirhead produced a brilliant comeback with a semi-final win over Sweden, guaranteeing Team GB's second medal at the Winter Olympics.

Muirhead and her rink, Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds and Hailey Duff, were looking for revenge against defending Olympic champion Anna Hasselborg, who beat Team GB in the semi-finals four years ago.

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She had won their round robin game in Beijing but the match started with the Swedes seizing four in the very first end.

"To come back from 4-0 down was unbelievable, I'd say statistically that was almost gone before it started," said coach David Murdoch, Britain’s silver medal skip from the 2014 Sochi Games.

"I'm not sure what our chance of winning would have been at that point, certainly less than ten per cent.

"But Eve is a warrior, she keeps coming out and keeps fighting and teams find her tough to beat. They all showed the grit and resilience you need. It was pretty wild, white-knuckle stuff out there. You just have to love curling, don’t you?"

Muirhead admitted the first end was tough to take but she's nothing if not a scrapper, her play forcing Hasselborg into a succession of errors as the pressure ramped up in a match played over three hours of incremental tension, building to a nail-biting conclusion.

It was the defending champion's match to lose – and Muirhead's play forced her into mistake after mistake.

"Against a team like Sweden, it's a very slim chance you are coming back from that first end," she added.

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"We have a good chat, said we had nothing to lose and just tried to put some pressure on them and make the game nip and tuck.

"We got a bit of luck but there was a lot of good play from us that forced them to make mistakes. We stuck in there until the last stone of the last end."

Muirhead and team have certainly shown amazing resilience throughout this tournament, edging their way in the semi-finals by the barest of margins and never being more dangerous than when in a tight spot.

They mounted a determined comeback and a brilliant take out in the penultimate end gave them a three point advantage heading into the tenth.

However, a precision shot by Hasselborg forced an extra end, which Muirhead and rink bossed, securing the 12-11 win with a stone to spare.

Muirhead had lost her two previous Olympic semi-finals but this victory secures a clash with friend Satsuki Fujisawa's Japan on Sunday, after their surprise 8-6 win over Switzerland.

"I had a shot to beat Japan in the bronze medal match four years ago and missed it," said Muirhead.

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"It was a moment that I wanted to forget but it’s been in my head since then. In a way this is very pleasing that I’ve got a chance to play for a gold medal against them.”

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