Errors bring first defeats for Martin and Murdoch

Rhona Martin and her team suffered the first defeat in their defence of the curling title Great Britain won four years ago after a tight match against Sweden ended 8-6 in the world champion's favour.

David Murdoch's curlers also suffered their first setback of the men's Olympic curling competition as they were well beaten by the favourites, Canada, at Pinerolo.

A number of early mistakes gifted Sweden's women a 5-0 advantage after just three ends and despite a gritty comeback Martin never looked likely to win. Martin admitted: "What caused it was the second and third ends because you can't go 5-0 down to the European and world champions.

"It was not the best start to the game but that happened to us at the Europeans and we completely flattened - so at least we fought back to the last stone."

Martin said she would lose little sleep ahead of tomorrow's return against Russia, with none of Britain's rivals still unbeaten in the tournament. Martin added: "Everybody has lost games out there and everybody is going to beat everybody else, so it is about who has got the true grit and determination to get through the games."

Having started the round-robin stage with two straight wins, Murdoch's team never looked likely to succeed against the world champions, who won 9-5 with an end to spare. Murdoch's missed double take-out in the fourth end gifted Britain's opponents a three-point advantage which they never looked like surrendering.

"We got off to a bad start and didn't get the rocks in the right positions," Murdoch said.

Britain's short-track speed skater Sarah Lindsay slid out of contention at the final bend of the quarter-finals of the 500 metres, crashing into the boards, but was allowed through to the semi-finals because she had been taken out by an opponent.

Chemmy Alcott produced the best Olympic alpine result by a British woman in 38 years with an 11th place finish in yesterday's women's downhill. The 23-year-old from Twickenham finished 1.36 sec behind the winner, Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria. "I'm so surprised," she said.

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