BEIJING (Reuters) – Canada’s John Morris can no longer coach Australia’s Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt as he is competing against them in the Beijing Games curling mixed doubles event, but he is proud the pair have achieved their dream by reaching the Olympics.
Morris, who won the event with Kaitlyn Lawes four years ago in Pyeongchang, helped Gill and Hewitt become Australia’s first Olympic curlers and even though they have lost all five of their matches so far, the Canadian is proud of the pair.
Morris and Rachel Homan ramped up Canada’s bid to retain the title on Friday by beating Switzerland 7-5 — in a rematch of the 2018 final — and hosts China 8-6, while Australia fell 7-6 to Sweden and 9-8 to Britain at the National Aquatics Centre.
“I’m very, very proud of them,” Morris said of the Australians, who pushed reigning world champion Britons Jennifer Dodds and Bruce Mouat to a nail-biting extra end in a contest decided by the finest of margins.
“They’re very good friends of mine … It hurts me to see them not succeeding. But I think they’ve made wonderful strides to get to the Olympics, just to be here.
“They were considered a very long shot to make the Olympics, so the fact that they’re here, and they are the first ever curling team from Australia, it’s great,” he added.
“That’s the thing we’ve got to remember here — three years ago they had a dream to come to the Olympics, and it was a long-shot dream. And they made that dream reality.”
Italy brought their top form to maintain a perfect start after four games and lead the standings, scoring an 11-8 win over Norway before hammering the Czech Republic 10-2 in their best performance so far.
“We were like sharks … When they made mistakes, we were there. That was the key,” Italy’s Stefania Constantini said after their victory over the Czech pair. “I think this was the best game we have played.”
Canada and Britain are joint second with three wins and a defeat each while Sweden, who lost 8-7 to the United States after an extra end, are fourth after five matches.
Teams will play nine round-robin matches with the top four progressing to the semi-finals, which will be played on Monday.
The Winter Games officially begin later on Friday with the opening ceremony at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Ken Ferris)