Sochi Paralympics: GB curlers beat China to win bronze

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GB curlers beat China to win bronze

Great Britain's wheelchair curlers have won Winter Paralympic bronze after beating China 7-3 in a tense play-off in Sochi.

GB needed to bounce back after their semi-final loss to Russia earlier in the day but were 3-0 down after two of the eight ends.

After that, they played strongly and showed greater tactical awareness to go 6-3 up after six ends and hold on.

It is Britain's sixth medal of the Games.

It makes it the nation's most successful Winter Paralympics since the GB team won 10 medals in Innsbruck in 1984.

"It's been a very emotional competition, a real roller coaster ride and I'm absolute delighted and thrilled to come away with a bronze," skip Aileen Neilson told BBC Sport.

"We achieved our first goal to make the play-offs and then our other goal was to come back home with a medal. The support has been immense.

"The main thing that has got us through is our team dynamic. That is the strength of this team. We can be down, some people might think we're out, but we are never down and out until the last stone is thrown.

"We came out and we fought hard and played the shots, and I am just delighted I was able to make some big shots when maybe through the week I hadn't.

"This is a sport for anyone of any ability and any age and I hope people have been inspired by this and what the Olympians achieved."

Team-mate Angie Malone, who also won a silver with GB in Turin in 2006, was thrilled with her second Paralympic medal.

"This bronze medal feels like gold," she added.

"It's been a tough week for us. We played some tough games and won some great games and playing that bronze medal game was one of the best of my life. We are coming home to Scotland with this bronze medal and I'm just really delighted."

GB had missed out on a place in the final after a 13-4 defeat by Russia.

They never recovered from the fourth end, when Russia scored with a Paralympic record seven of their eight stones in a single end to go 11-3 ahead.

Alternate Malone came on to replace Bob McPherson and she retained her place in the starting line-up for the medal match in the all-Scottish line-up alongside skip Aileen Neilson, Gregor Ewan and Jim Gault, a late replacement for Tom Killin who was forced to miss the tournament through illness.

And Gault told BBC Sport that the bronze medal meant everything to him after his dramatic call-up.

"I've been training with these guys for three and a half years so I just slotted in," he said. "We came to do a job and we got it done.

"The team dynamics have been fantastic and we've always picked ourselves up and come back and today was the same. It was quite a task to lift ourselves for the final after the semi-final We knew the Chinese would be tough but we stuck to our targets.

"Seeing the skiers winning medals made us really wanted to win one too. We knew we had great support from the skiers and also from those at home and it has been an amazing journey."

Great Britain went 1-0 down after the opening end of the game against the Chinese before China stole two in the second end.

With skip Aileen Neilson showing far more accuracy than in the semi-final, GB played some clever tactics to take two in the third end with the hammer and then get another two in the following end after some superior play forced China into making the mistake.

GB continued to work hard and scored singles in the fifth and sixth ends and some more gutsy play by Neilson in a nervy seventh end helped them inch further ahead.

China, who were seeking their first-ever Winter Paralympic medal, tried to pile the pressure on in the final end but GB were up to the task to win a second-ever Paralympic wheelchair curling medal.

Canada won their third consecutive gold after beating Russia 8-3 in the final.

Of the other Britons in action on Saturday, 16-year-old James Whitley was 14th in the standing giant slalom where gold went to Vincent Gauthier-Manuel of France while Mick Brennan was 14th in the seated division but Ben Sneesby failed to finish his second run.

Switzerland's Christoph Kunz won gold in the seated division while Canadian teenager Mac Marcoux added to his two bronzes with gold in the visually impaired race.

Marcoux should have been guided by elder brother Billy Jo but he had to withdraw from the Games a week before it started with a back injury and Robin Femy took the role instead.

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