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Winter Olympics closing ceremony LIVE: Team GB women win first gold medal in curling as Beijing Games end

Follow latest updates from Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 as Team GB chase their first medal of the Games

Watch live outside China’s National Stadium as Winter Olympics come to close

Great Britain’s women, led by Eve Muirhead, went one better than the men in their gold medal match against Japan at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The men’s team fell short yesterday when Sweden claimed gold to deny Bruce Mouat and his team. Swedish skip Niklas Edin proved too good and repeated their victory over Great Britain in a 2014 semi-final. Muirhead overcame almost impossible odds to steer her women’s curling team into the Olympic final where she completed an incredible journey to finally fulfil an ambition that appeared beyond her after a decade at the top of her sport. Team coach Murdoch put her chances of salvaging victory at “less than 10 per cent” after shipping four shots in a disastrous opening end to defending Olympic champions Sweden, but they clawed back to clinch a thrilling 12-11 victory in an extra end.

In the final, Muirhead guided Great Britain to their first and only gold of the Games, beating Japan 10-3 to claim the joint-biggest margin of victory in a final since the sport was reintroduced in ‘98. With all events now closed and the medals handed out, it only remains for the closing ceremony to take place and the baton to be passed on to Italy.

Follow live coverage from the Winter Olympics below:

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From politics and human rights to doping and Covid, Beijing Games leaves a sour taste

When snow, fake or otherwise, melts you get slush but it’s doubtful many will be feeling too sentimentally slushy about these Olympics.

For those who made debuts, delivered personal bests or cracked the podium, these weeks in frigid Beijing will warm their hearts for years to come.

Eve Muirhead and Bruce Mouat are curlers, not diplomats, and had no choice about the stage on which they were told to ‘hurry hard’ on.

However, for the wider watching world, and many inside the five-ringed circus, the page can’t be turned quickly enough.

Despite warm words at a colourful closing ceremony, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has long been gold medallists in saying one thing in public and another in private.

A second pandemic Games in six months, especially in ‘Covid Zero’ China where Hazmat suits outnumbered tracksuits, was far from ideal and precisely the reason why the IOC changed the winter Games frequency in 1994.

However, off-field issues loomed large and wouldn’t go away, providing a stubborn sub-plot to all the sporting excellence.

James Toney provides the final review of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

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Best photos from Beijing as Winter Olympics closing ceremony ends

Some spectacular images, some questionable speeches, one or two songs and a whole lot of excited, finally-relaxed athletes at the end of a demanding few weeks.

The closing ceremony in Beijing was a sight to behold, with men’s curling skip Bruce Mouat the chosen flagbearer for Great Britain.

Here we’ve picked out some of the most spectacular photos from the closing ceremony:

Fireworks explode over the stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics (Jae C Hong/AP)

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Eve Muirhead savours ‘dream come true’ after ‘rollercoaster’ ride to Olympic gold

Eve Muirhead likes to bemoan those damned ‘Curling Gods’ but she admitted someone upstairs was finally looking benevolently down on her.

Because there was certainly plenty of reasons to dub this against the odds gold medal victory as the Mira-curl on Ice, very few seasoned observers giving her a chance on arrival in Beijing.

Muirhead and her rink, Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds and Hailey Duff produced a flawless final performance to claim Team GB’s first gold, just eight hours before the closing ceremony. In sport, timing is everything.

There was no ‘Stone of Destiny’, the fabled rock that Rhona Martin delivered in Salt Lake City to win Team GB’s last curling gold 20 years ago.

This was a relentless grinding performance against Japan, a one-sided clash secured with an end to spare, Muirhead’s tactics judged to perfection, her team’s accuracy unerring.

Full report from Beijing on Great Britain’s greatest achievement:

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Five stand-out moments from the Beijing Winter Olympics

We have certainly witnessed a memorable Games in China with highlights and lowlights at both ends of the spectrum.

A Russian figure skater threatened to dazzle before a shocking truth emerged, a Rocket Man also ruled the ice, and a final-day surge ensured the last weekend was all about Eve from a Team GB perspective.

Here the PA news agency picks out five highlights from the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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Muirhead hails gold medal achievements of Great Britain’s reconstructed curling team

Eve Muirhead paid tribute to the four women who swept by her side and dared to dream of Olympic gold, making her “a better curler and better person” in the process.

Team Muirhead has been constructed over four years - painfully and painstakingly - qualifying for the Games at the final attempt and going on to win gold.

The three debutants all bring something different to the table and have brought the best out of their skip, playing at her peak at her fourth Olympic Games.

Here, Muirhead details her feelings on each and how they contributed to Team GB’s only gold medal in Beijing:

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Eve Muirhead backed to become ‘greatest of all time’ after adding Olympic gold to major titles

David Murdoch believes Eve Muirhead could go on to become the greatest women’s curler of all time.

Olympic silver medallist Murdoch, the coach to Team GB’s newest Olympic champions, was a team-mate of Muirhead in Sochi and Vancouver, where she made her debut as a teenager.

Now 31, he believes Olympic gold could be just the inspiration she needs to push on and dominate the sport with her superstar rink of Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds, Hailey Duff and Mili Smith.

“She could definitely go on to be one of the greatest ever,” said Murdoch.

“She’s been around so long, she’s won World Championships and Europeans and now she’s got that Olympic medal, she’s done everything in the sport.”

Full report:

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BOA say ‘more medal performances’ were needed from Team GB in Beijing

British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Anson acknowledged that there will need to be tough discussions and decisions ahead for those sports and athletes who failed to hit their respective medal targets in Beijing.

Two curling medals on the final two days of competition put some gloss on an otherwise disappointing Winter Games for Great Britain, with a number of strong medal chances falling by the wayside.

Chief among those to disappoint was skeleton, whose four athletes fell well short of medal contention despite £6.5million of funding during the Olympic cycle just expired.

“We don’t want to hide away from the fact that there will be sports and athletes going home who will be disappointed with the way things have gone out here,” said Anson.

“I don’t think we can pretend that’s not the case. We’d probably like to see more strong performances, more medal performances than we did.”

UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday has insisted there will be no reduction in support across the board for British winter sports despite a number of well-funded failures.

“It’s important for me to say that the last two weeks have not altered our ambition to become an even greater force in winter sport,” said Munday.

“It’s fair to say these Games have been a setback in Great Britain’s Olympic success story, and we’ve taken some blows.

“I think you probably liken us to a wounded lion. We will go away and we will lick our wounds. But please be assured we will come back and roar stronger in Milan-Cortina.”

PA

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British Olympic Association chief urges full investigation into Valieva saga

British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Anson has described the Kamila Valieva saga as “horrific” and called for tougher sanctions if investigations find Russia responsible for her ongoing doping case.

The plight of the 15-year-old figure skater, who was allowed to compete despite a positive drugs test and subsequently fell apart in front of the watching world, will provide the abiding images of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

And ahead of its closing ceremony Anson came down strongly on those responsible for causing a stain on the Olympic movement.

“The Valieva stuff is horrific,” said Anson. “I don’t think we can pretend it’s anything other than that.

“The investigation into everyone around Valieva needs to be thorough and go as deep as it possibly can because what happened there was just completely unacceptable.

“This is a global story and a pretty awful one. The IOC has to act and push it as far they can.

“The Sochi doping was clearly systematic and covered the whole team. That deserved to be punished and we were very frustrated by the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) ruling that reduced the ban from four to two years.

“I still can’t understand the logic of reducing that. If the investigation into Valieva finds that this was part of a sporting system that was doping deliberately, of course we’d support a much harsher ban.”

PA

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Beijing closes curtain on 'closed loop' Games

Beijing doused its Olympic flame on Sunday night, closing a Games that will be remembered for the extremes of its anti-COVID-19 measures and outrage over the doping scandal that enveloped 15-year-old Russian skating sensation Kamila Valieva.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was on hand for the snowflake-themed ceremony at the Bird’s Nest stadium, where International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach described the Beijing Games as “truly exceptional” before declaring them closed.

During the ceremony, Bach praised Beijing’s organisers and made a call for unity as well as universal access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“You embraced each other, even if your countries are divided by conflict,” he said. “The unifying power of the Olympic Games is stronger than the forces that want to divide us: you give peace a chance.”

Reuters

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Final medal table rankings

91 nations participated in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, with 28 picking up at least one medal during the 19 days of sporting action. Here are the final rankings of the top ten:

1. Norway: 16 gold, 37 total.

2. Germany: 12, 27.

3. China: 9, 15.

4. United Stated: 8, 25.

5. Sweden: 8, 18.

6. Netherlands: 8, 17.

7. Austria: 7, 18.

8. Switzerland: 7, 14.

9. ROC: 6, 32.

10. France: 5, 14.

Team GB finished up in 19th place, with one gold and one silver medal, both in curling.

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