Scotland's Team Muirhead sealed a place at Beijing 2022 for Great Britain's female curlers with a dramatic victory at the Olympic qualification event in the Netherlands.
Skip Eve Muirhead and her unit handled their own business with a dominant victory over Italy, but now affairs were out of their hands with Japan set to advance if they could beat Turkey, who entered the final day of competition bottom off the round-robin standings.
However Turkey secured a surprise 8-5 victory, leaving Scotland level with both the Japanese rink and that of South Korea, with identical records of six wins and two losses.
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That meant a consultation of the tie-break Draw Shot Challenge, based on the overall performance across the event in the pre-match last stone draws.
And Scotland knew that meant victory, and a place at the Winter Olympics as the leading Team GB women quartet, was theirs.
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"I couldn’t actually watch the Japan game,” Muirhead admitted, having secured her place at her fourth Winter Games.
“I went to my room because I hate watching. I’d much rather be on the ice. The four other girls watched it and then they phoned me and the celebrations began there and then.
“It’s going to take a while to sink in, but to have booked Team GB a place on the flight to Beijing and to have the chance of going back to another Olympic Games is something very, very special.”
Victory continued a remarkable run for Muirhead and her team, comprised of Vicky Wright, Jen Dodds and Hailey Duff against Italy.
The group have won all four competitions they have played together since uniting after emerging as the team - along with Mili Smith, who did not feature in Leeuwarden - best-placed to contend in Beijing from British Curling's newly-introduced squad system.
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The win over Italy also represented a measure of revenge over the only rink to have beaten Muirhead's team on their way to securing double Scottish triumph at November's European Championships.
“We’re absolutely delighted. This is why you play isn’t it, to get a spot in the Olympic Games and for all five of us it just rewards a lot of very hard work, a lot of dedication. For it to pay off is just very, very special,” 31-year-old skip Muirhead said.
“For myself, to get to a fourth Games is something I’ve dreamed of and there were times that I never ever thought that would ever happen again and for everyone else it’ll be their first Olympics, so it’s very exciting.
“The whole team has performed well, including Mili (Smith), our fifth player, who hasn’t played any games, but has been a huge part of our team, working late checking stones and doing everything she can to help us prepare.
"We’re not a team of four, we’re a team of five and with our coaches Kristian (Lindstrom) and Dave (Murdoch) as well, we’ve all come together and been one really great team here.
"We’ve obviously had a lot to deal with due to Covid situations and with disappointment at Worlds, so when something so great like this comes out of it, it just shows that the hard work and the dedication has been worth it.”
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin officially with the Opening Ceremony on February 4, 2022, though the curling competitions will begin two days earlier.
Great Britain's women join China, Switzerland, the ROC, the United States, Sweden, Denmark and Canada in battling for a medal.
Their male counterparts secured qualification at the World Men's Curling Championship in April 2021.
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