Edinburgh's Bruce Mouat determined to go one better next time after silver medal at Winter Olympics in Beijing
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Because there will be a next time for Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan, who return from Beijing with a medal and cast-iron motivation for Milan-Cortina in 2026.
The youngest team in this Olympic curling tournament was its second best, because there can be no doubt that Sweden and Niklas Edin deserved gold and a 5-4 victory.
"This result drives us forward, we've put in so much work over the last five years, we won't let that go to waste," said Mouat, 27.
"We'll be driving even harder to get that gold medal next time. Niklas has had such an impressive career and he's one of the best in curling history, he's an example of what we can do in four years’ time.
"We just need to get to that point again but make the result different. It was pretty close but we gave them too much of a head start."
Sweden did indeed boss the game from the start. Britain began with the hammer thanks to their higher round-robin placing but could only lie one in the opening end.
In the next Edin managed to lodge two stones at opposite sides of the house and the rolling double takeout proved beyond Hardie and Mouat as they went 2-1 down.
The skips went rope-a-dope in the third with Mouat nailing a terrific triple takeout with his first stone but then failing to put enough juice on a draw to the button, allowing Sweden to steal.
Any early nerves in the British ranks looked most evident in Lammie, the youngest member of the group at 25, who forgot the mask required for the pre-match parade.
The Stranraer star shot 71% through the first four ends of play, comparing unfavourably to an Olympic average 86% - a tournament-high for a second.
Perhaps the world’s strongest sweeper, Lammie’s brushstrokes helped avoid another steal as Mouat drew for a marginal score of one, measured in his favour by a centimetre.
Edin established control over scoring and the hammer, choosing to drain the life out of the game and blank the fifth and sixth ends.
“They came out absolutely firing and we probably weren't top gear the first half," said McMillan. “It was a really tough game."
In the seventh master tactician Hardie swung the pendulum Britain’s way with a sensational draw that settled in a forest of three yellow stones.
That shot set up Mouat’s first steal of the match as Edin made his first major error, coming up well short on a takeout of one of four British guards, levelling the scores at 3-3.
Edin left a slight chink of light with his first stone in the eighth but Mouat couldn’t quite take advantage and Sweden retook the lead with a draw for one.
Hardie was on fire - landing successive double takeouts in the penultimate end - but a big score didn’t open up for Mouat who chose to blank the end and take the last stone.
Edin stopped at nothing to keep control of the game.
He continued to chip out yellow stones and only allowed Mouat to score one in the tenth, regaining the hammer for the extra end where he laid the one required for victory.
Team GB shot a 90% game but were barely given a look in, a tribute to the quality of the match and the opposition that they weren’t blind to, even through a film of tears.
“We asked the question of him, whether he could make those perfect shots, and he did,” said head coach David Murdoch.
“We kept going out there and forcing as much pressure as we could and kept trying to make him make mistakes and he didn’t make any of them. He’s the best ever, for sure.”
Lammie added: “They always turn it up a level in the big games and the major competitions. They’re always challenging for the medals - they know how to compete.
“We wanted to be the ones to stop him from getting that gold. They were deserving of that gold medal, he’s had some career and he’s won it all now.”
Silver was Britain's fifth curling medal and the third for a men's team, the first since Murdoch took silver at Sochi 2014.
McMillan brings home the medal that his world champion father couldn’t manage in two attempts, falling so far short in Salt Lake City when favoured for a podium charge.
Cousins Hardie and McMillan shared the Olympic podium and Lammie and Mouat as friends and playing partners since their junior days - moments they will grow to cherish.
“We'll look back and be proud, we will,” McMillan said. “Right now it is very raw. We put this team together four and half, five years ago to stand on top of the podium.
“The year we've had, the last 18 months, we felt we could have done that. We just fell a bit short.”
Swedish third Oskar Eriksson summed up what it took to unseat Mouat’s history boys.
“Their highest standard is so good, we had to play a perfect game to beat them."
And they did.
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