Curling: Conquering curlers bring home the gold

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The Independent Online

Britain's all conquering female curlers arrived home yesterday, proudly wearing the Olympic gold medals they won at Salt Lake City.

They touched down at Heathrow still dressed in their Team GB tracksuits before flying to Glasgow airport, where they received a rapturous welcome from family and fans – and a serenade of "Scotland the Brave" from a lone piper dressed in Highland regalia.

The team – Rhona Martin, 35, from Dunlop, Margaret Morton, 33, from Ayr, Fiona MacDonald, 27, from Inverness, Debbie Knox, 33, from Fife, and Janice Rankin, 29, from Inverness – have been inundated with sponsorship offers, including a possible deal with Safeway to promote a floor cleaner, since their unexpected triumph last week.

Around 5.6 million British television viewers watched their nail-biting win over Switzerland, which clinched Britain's first Winter Olympics gold since the ice skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean at Sarajevo in 1984.

Although played by only 30,000 Scots, the British team's victory has lifted curling out of obscurity and engaged the curiosity of millions. However, the team captain Mrs Martin said she was taken aback by the rapturous welcome home.

"It's very exciting, I don't think it was something we were prepared for," said Mrs Martin, a housewife. "The reception we have been given is fantastic. It's a good feeling to be back home but at the moment I'm just looking forward to seeing my children."

Last night the women were toasting their success at the Greenacres Curling Club in Howwood, Renfrewshire, where they honed the sport which turned them into world champions.

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