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Coronation is complete

Martin, curling’s king, ascends podium to finally receive his elusive gold medal

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VANCOUVER — There can be no debate whatsoever now: Kevin Martin is the King of Curling.

Martin added the one shiny piece missing from his extensive curling resume — an Olympic gold medal — with another spectacular effort in a 6-3 victory over Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud in front of a capacity crowd at the Vancouver Olympic Centre on Saturday.

World champ, four-time Brier champ, first in World Curling Tour’s all-time Grand Slam titles. And now, after taking the silver in 2002 when his draw was inches heavy in a loss to Pal Trulsen, Olympic gold.

"It’s great. It just feels so good," said Martin. "I’m not sure if (winning gold) can be better (than he imagined) but it might have been better. When that (last) rock was going to make contact that’s about as good a feeling as you get. All the hard work, it all comes true."

"Kevin played great," added Canadian lead Ben Hebert. "This was the best he’s played all year in any event. I know how much this means to him. It had nothing to do with 2002 or any other Olympics he’s been to. He just wanted this one to fill his resumé as probably the best curler of all time and he played like it all week.
"He was unbelievable."

The whole crew was unbelievable, actually, particularly Winnipeg-born John Morris, who made a triple and two doubles even before the fifth-end break and delivered an emotional pre-game speech.

Interestingly, Morris becomes the first curler ever to be a world junior champ, world men’s champ and Olympic gold medallist.
"I’m pretty sure Kevin didn’t want another silver in that trophy case of his back home," said Morris. "It was nice to get that gold medal for him. This has been a dream of all of ours, especially mine, since I first remember watching the Olympics on TV.

"Dream big and work hard and anything can happen."
Martin went unbeaten in Vancouver, going 9-0 in the round robin and winning twice in the playoffs, to complete an absolutely dominant season for the Edmonton skip.

"We played a pretty good game, not our best," said Ulsrud. "We played a good game but gave them some chances and they just slapped us. What can I say? That’s how good these guys are."
In the end, Martin’s quest for gold — and his team’s desire to help him get there — may have been summed up by their reaction afterward, including Morris jumping into Hebert’s arms in celebration.

"That was a pretty good hug, actually," said Hebert. "I don’t get emotional hugs like that from my girlfriend all the time. Your adrenalin is pumping so much there I could have carried 10 people."

"You never know how you’re going to celebrate after a big win like this," added Morris, beaming. "But I’m pretty sure we’re going to have a good time tonight."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

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