Great Britain had to settle for a silver medal after losing their Olympic men’s curling final 5-4 to Sweden in an extra end at the National Aquatics Centre in Beijing.
Forced to try an ambitious effort to salvage an improbable win against the hammer, Bruce Mouat’s attempted take-out missed by inches to give Swedish skip Niklas Edin his first Olympic crown.
Mouat’s men were never in front after losing two in the second end, but nevertheless the 27-year-old and his team of Hammy McMillan, Bobby Lammie, Grant Hardie and alternate Ross Whyte can take solace in becoming Britain’s first medallists of the Games.
It was a thoroughly impressive display by Edin, a former soldier in the Swedish army with five world titles to his name, who was under pressure in Beijing to land the one major title that still eluded him.
While the Swedes beat Mouat’s men 10-5 for his latest world triumph in April, the final score did little justice to the Scots, who shipped five in the last as they tried to fashion an improbable win against the hammer.
And seven months later at the European Championships in Lillehammer, Edin was left in no doubt that he had a fast-emerging rival to contend with as Mouat sunk him in both the group stage and then the final to claim his second continental crown.
That shift in momentum had continued in the group stage in Beijing, when Mouat fashioned a 7-6 win in the group stage that effectively sealed their place at the top of the standings – and would crucially give them the hammer in the first end of the final.
But Sweden took the initiative when Edin took two in the second end, and under Edin’s expert stewardship, it was one they would never quite relinquish.
The Swedes extended their advantage by stealing one in the third despite a brilliant double take-out by Mouat that have given him a glimmer of a greater reward.
Mouat pulled one back in the fourth for 3-2 and after Edin intentionally blanked the sixth and seventh ends to retain the last stone advantage, he made a rare error in the eighth to hand GB a steal and allow them to tie up the score at 3-3.
More clever tactics by Mouat in the eighth forced Edin to settle for one, and a pair of superb double take-outs in the ninth – first by Lammie, then Hardie, set up an intentional blank to allow GB to retain the hammer for the final end.
However, forced to take one in the 10th after some more expert work from Edin, they gave the advantage back to the Swedes for the extra end, and they forced Mouat into attempting an improbable effort which came up short.
An emotional Lammie told BBC Sport: “I don’t know what to say. Personally I wasn’t at my best today. I’m gutted for the boys.
“I think we fought back well in the second half, gave ourselves position and couldn’t quite get over the line. Right now it hurts.”
McMillan added: “We’ve had a good week, it’s not how we wanted to end it but we’ll look back at this and we’ll be proud. Right now it kind of sucks.”