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Archives for December 2009

Following in Rhona Martin's footsteps

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Anna Thompson | 09:21 UK time, Friday, 18 December 2009

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It was a school night and Eve Muirhead would normally have been in bed hours earlier.

But the budding curler's parents Gordon and Lin allowed the 12-year-old to stay up late and watch the television as Rhona Martin and her team took on Switzerland in the Olympic curling final taking place at Ogden Ice Sheet near Salt Lake City in February 2002.

And together with millions of other Brits who formed a cult following for the sport over that memorable Olympics, Muirhead was ecstatic as housewife Martin's final stone clinched a 4-3 victory in the early hours of the morning - and with it Britain's first Winter Olympic gold since Torvill and Dean in 1984.

"We talked of nothing else at school that morning," Muirhead told me.

But whereas her schoolmates were revelling in a rare Scottish sporting success, she was already planning her future: "From that moment it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be like Rhona and win an Olympic gold medal."

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Get ready to rumble as ski-cross makes Olympic debut

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Anna Thompson | 06:32 UK time, Thursday, 10 December 2009

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Sporting memories are made from moments which range from the sublime to the ridiculous and I've been privileged to have seen quite a few first hand.

I was lucky enough to be at Liverpool's unbelievable triumph in the Champions League final in Istanbul in 2005 where I have never seen so many male football fans crying with joy and emotionally drained at the end of such an epic evening.

Three years earlier I was at Ogden ice sheet near Salt Lake City nervously watching as Rhona Martin sent that final stone down to clinch curling glory for Great Britain - the country's first Winter Olympic gold medal since Torvill and Dean back in 1984.

British winter sport gold medals are almost as rare as hen's teeth so I felt extremely proud and honoured as the curlers flung their special brushes in the air and screamed with delight.

But one incident which sticks in my mind is the snowboard-cross final at the 2006 Games in Turin...

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Ghana's Snow Leopard on the Winter Olympics prowl

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Anna Thompson | 06:30 UK time, Thursday, 10 December 2009

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You know how it is. The Winter Olympics come around every four years and all of a sudden our interest is suddenly awakened in sports we've no real idea about and athletes we've never heard of.

Well the 2010 Games are just around the corner, starting on 12 February in Vancouver, Canada, to be precise, and will conjure up new unexpected heroes for their own 15 minutes of fame.

And one of these could well be Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong.

While most Winter Olympians dream of standing on the podium, proudly displaying a medal around their necks, he will be hoping not to finish last.

It doesn't sound much of an aspiration, but the skier wants to make his nation - Ghana - proud.

He has become the first Ghanaian to qualify for the Winter Olympics and will be competing in slalom and giant slalom at Whistler Creekside .

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