BEIJING (Reuters) -Niklas Edin cemented his position as one of the greatest curlers of all time when he led Sweden to an extra-end victory over Britain in the men’s final on Saturday to finally add Olympic gold to his glittering collection of titles.
Sweden clinched their first men’s Olympic curling gold medal after outplaying Britain 5-4 at the National Aquatics Centre in a tensely-fought tactical battle, with Edin reading the ice to near-perfection to maintain the upper hand.
“God, it’s nice,” said the 36-year-old Edin after becoming the most decorated skip in history, adding gold in Beijing to his five world championships and seven European crowns among numerous other accolades.
Although Bruce Mouat’s Britain fell short, there was a silver lining for them as their second-placed finish gave the nation its first medal at the Beijing Olympics.
“There’s no bigger stage than the Olympic final, and for Niklas to come out there and make some of the shots he did was incredible,” Mouat said.
“He is the greatest in history for me. There’s no doubt he’s the best.”
Edin and team mate Oskar Eriksson had been chasing Olympic gold for more than a decade, with the Swedish quartet taking one step closer every four years.
Sweden finished fourth at Vancouver 2010, won bronze in Sochi in 2014 and, with Beijing team mates Rasmus Wranaa and Christoffer Sundgren, were surprise runners-up to the United States in Pyeongchang four years ago.
“It’s completely unbelievable,” Edin added. “It’s obviously been an incredibly long journey with pretty disappointing defeats in a couple of the previous Olympic Games.
“It makes it even sweeter now that we’ve reached the top of the podium. The pressure and the monkey’s off our backs… We knew this was missing from our resumes, more than anyone, and we knew that it’s in our grasp.
“It’s truly amazing to achieve this with a group of great friends and great athletes,” he added. “It feels like there are very few athletes who are more worthy of this than us.”
Eriksson won bronze in the mixed doubles here last week and became the first player ever to win two curling medals at one Games as well as the sport’s most decorated player, with four medals.
“It’s pretty cool,” said the 30-year-old Eriksson, “but I don’t think that would have mattered if there had not been a gold. I would trade them all for one gold.”
Edin, who has had 10 operations in the past decade, said it had not fully sunk in that he had, at last, won the Olympic gold.
“I think that I might wake up tomorrow morning wondering if we have one more match to play,” he added. “It feels so crazy, I almost had to ask someone before I came here, ‘We have won, right?’
“There’s a lot of emotions out there… We felt that we’re worthy champions but it still felt completely insane and when it actually happens it is hard to understand.
“It can take its time. It will feel as good as it can be for a long time now.”
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma; Editing by Clare Fallon and Hugh Lawson)