David Murdoch gives Great Britain a ‘great chance’ of beating Sweden
Great Britain’s Olympic coach David Murdoch believes Bruce Mouat’s rising stars have what it takes to sink five-time world champions Sweden and claim a first curling gold since Rhona Martin’s 2002 ‘Stone of Destiny’.
Mouat sealed the Saturday showdown in Beijing with a nerveless semi-final win over the United States, but vastly experienced Swedish skip Niklas Edin – who denied Murdoch a medal chance in Vancouver in 2010 – will prove a different proposition.
Mouat’s team lost to Edin’s side in the final of last year’s World Championship, but beat them to claim the European crown. Crucially, they nudged a 7-6 win in the round-robin stages which helped them finish top of the standings, and therefore benefit from holding the ‘hammer’ – or final stone advantage – from the first end.
“Niklas probably has the best championship team there is, and I think you’ve seen at the last three Olympics that he’s been close to winning every time,” said Murdoch.
“He’s developed his game and a lot of the softer shots that make him very difficult to beat. But I feel we’ve got the skills right now. And we’ve already shown that when that game comes along again, we’ve got a great chance to win it.”
Edin is the first men’s skip to claim five world titles but despite also winning medals at the last two Winter Olympics, he is yet to win gold. A former tank commander in the Swedish army, the 36-year-old acknowledged the emergence of Mouat’s rival rink.
Murdoch’s own Olympic experience saw two semi-final appearances including a painful final defeat to Canada in Sochi in 2014. But he thinks the shifting dynamic of the big occasion will suit Mouat’s men, who go into the final on a run of eight wins in a row.
“I was lucky to be in a couple of Olympic finals and they come with their own pressures,” said Murdoch.
“But it’s what we’ve trained for and it’s where we want to be. I think the boys have just got to take a lot of confidence from where they are. They are playing incredible curling.
“The important thing is not to over-think too much. If you’re in good form you’ve just got to trust that you’re going to make shots. This team really believes and buys into everything together. They’re a really good collective unit.”
I was lucky to be a couple of Olympic finals and they come with their own pressures. But it's what we've trained for and it's where we want to be. I think the boys have just got to take a lot of confidence from where they are. They are playing incredible curling
Like Murdoch, lead Hammy McMillan already has an Olympic connection, with his father, also called Hammy, having skipped the men’s team at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, as well as winning the world title in 1999.
McMillan senior has been avidly following the team’s progress from his hotel in Stranraer, and McMillan junior admitted being inspired to take up the sport after watching a video of his father’s title triumph.
“I was seven when my dad won the world title,” said McMillan. “I’ve watched it back and it still gives me goosebumps watching that first end.
“After that I remember getting picked up from school when he got back. I got a day off school, so that was probably my favourite thing about the whole thing back then. He’s always given me advice and he’s one of my biggest supporters.”
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