Sochi 2014: David Murdoch relives Lockerbie plane crash

By Rob HodgettsBBC Sport in Sochi
GB men into Olympic curling final

British curling skip David Murdoch was desperate to win an Olympic medal - not just for himself, but for the people of Lockerbie.

The 35-year-old grew up in that quiet Scottish Borders town, which became eternally etched in the collective conscience when Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over its streets and fields on 21 December 1988.

All 259 people on board and 11 residents of the town died. Lockerbie life was changed forever.

Murdoch was 10 and watched it all happen from his father's car.

"I was about 300 yards away and I saw it come down," he said. "I was in a car driving back home. I was on an adjacent street. It was just like a bomb going off.

Lockerbie plane
All 259 people on board Pan Am Flight 103 died along with 11 residents of Lockerbie when the plane crashed into the Scottish town in 1988

"They used the rink as a morgue and a lot of troops were using our farm to land on. There were lots of bodies scattered all over Lockerbie so they were using the farm to put the Chinooks down."

Murdoch rarely brings up that part of his background, preferring not to let it colour his curling achievements. But with an Olympic silver medal now in his pocket, he is already planning his return home.

"There was the anniversary with Lockerbie recently and there were tough times there," he said.

"No-one can forget what happened and I want to give something back for all the support they've given me.

"It's a real nice town with a lot of good people in it and I'd love to walk through there with an Olympic medal."

GB's women's curlers Claire Hamilton and Anna Sloan were also born in the town, although after the tragedy.

Hamilton, a qualified pharmacist, said after they beat Switzerland to win the bronze medal: "Lockerbie is known for the disaster but maybe with these medals we can change that. Hopefully we will be associated with sporting success rather than something so unpleasant.'"

David Murdoch

In Turin eight years ago, Murdoch's men lost in the bronze-medal match. At Vancouver 2010, they turned up as world champions but finished fifth. Four years later - and after spending almost his entire adult life in the quest for Olympic glory - Murdoch now has a prized silver medal to show for his efforts.

"Incredible, I cannot describe the feeling," said Murdoch, after a tense, last-stone semi-final win against Sweden sealed Great Britain's place in the final against Canada. "That's a reward for 12 years of dedicating yourself to a sport, to beating your body up, going through injuries, hammering the fitness and throwing down 100 stones a day, and a lot of sacrifices and it has paid off."

Murdoch's curling prowess was sculpted on that Scottish ice from the age of seven, another product - like women's skip Eve Muirhead - of solid curling stock.

His sister Nancy is an Olympic coach and older brother Neil is a former European champion, while David was a member of the junior World Championship-winning teams in 1995 and 1996.

Murdoch rose to the role as skip in 1999, and four years later took his Scotland team to the European title, with Neil as second. He clinched silver at his first World Championships in 2005 and avenged the disappointment of Turin by guiding Scotland to the world title just a few months later.

Going to Vancouver, Murdoch's rink were among the favourites, but were unable to live up to their billing.

"I don't think we suffered from the pressure," he said. "I think it was form. We never really had good form and if you don't have that it's a tough thing to get going."

In a bid to make the small gains that create a champion, Murdoch moved to Stirling to be closer to the national training centre, where endless hours on the ice, fitness work, lifting weights, nutritionists and psychologists were the daily routine.

But he was soon sidelined by a serious shoulder problem, while Sochi team-mate Tom Brewster, 39, took his rink to the silver medal at both the 2011 and 2012 world championships.

When Murdoch was fit again he was drafted in to Brewster's team to add some experience, and took them to third at both the European and World Championships.

In October, Murdoch was given the nod as GB skip for Sochi, while Brewster had to settle for a role as alternate.

"I'm the unlucky one," said Brewster, who was Murdoch's skip at the junior worlds in 1995. "Any of the five of us could be sitting where I am."

Coming into the Games, Murdoch exuded a relaxed air, happy to let Muirhead's world champions soak up more of the hype.

"For me this time round, the drive to win is huge but the pressure is very low," he said. "I don't feel like there's any pressure on us at all. We can fly under the radar a little bit."

Murdoch has certainly performed with a clear head, guiding his men to the semi-final with a double take-out - "one of his best shots ever" - to beat Norway and following up with a match-winning final stone against Sweden.

Though he will be disappointed not to have produced his best form in the final, in which Britain were beaten 9-3 by Canada, his silver medal will certainly be well-received back home in Lockerbie.

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