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End in sight for greatest curling career ever

Martin to take one last stab at Olympics before retiring

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LONDON, Ont. -- He is, unequivocally, the greatest curler in the history of the sport.

Edmonton's Kevin Martin has won absolutely everything there is to win in curling, from Canadian championships to world titles to Olympic gold to hundreds of thousands of dollars on the cash circuit -- and just about everything in between.

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And so it all raised the question Sunday afternoon as Martin rattled off his landmark 100th career Brier victory with an 8-2 thrashing of B.C.'s Jim Cotter: What's left for you still to do?

Not much, was the somewhat surprising answer, because it turns out that Martin has already decided that he will make one final push to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and will then retire following the 2013-14 curling season, win or lose.

"We'll try our best to get to Sochi. We'll train extremely hard the last couple of years before that, because that will be my last try," Martin told reporters.

"For sure. It's already been decided."

Seriously? A curling world without Kevin Martin? What else would you do? "I'm going to go down to Palm Springs and play a lot more golf is what I'm going to be doing after that," Martin said with a laugh.

"I will not be doing seniors (curling). I will be golfing at Desert Dunes."

With four Brier titles already to his credit -- and the unique designation as the only curler in the world with both Olympic gold and silver medals -- Martin was asked what is motivating him in the meantime.

"I don't think that matters -- the winning or losing," said Martin, 44.

"It's more the fun of it and enjoying the big games. To have the crowd loud and cheering when you make a good one, there's nothing better for myself or any athlete probably.

"When you throw it and you're close and you make a really good shot and you hear the crowd, that's cool. And if you lose that, you should quit. But for now, I still really, really enjoy that."

It has shown here. While his team -- third John Morris, second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert -- played a downsized cashspiel season this winter, they appear to be at the top of their game as they head into today at 3-0.

They've had convincing wins over Northern Ontario and B.C., but perhaps showed their best in the one game in which they struggled, albeit momentarily -- an 8-6 victory Sunday morning over New Brunswick's James Grattan.

Martin spotted Grattan a 3-0 lead -- all of it on steals -- but then simply took over, wearing down New Brunswick the rest of the way and then coolly drawing the four-foot with the last rock of the game to gain the predictable result in the most unpredictable of manners.

Ontario's Glenn Howard -- who disclosed yesterday that he's "80 per cent" leaning toward also retiring following the 2013-14 season -- said Martin has nothing left to prove in curling.

"The only thing held over his head was that he didn't have the gold medal, he didn't have the world championship," said Howard. "He's got both those now."

And then, with a laugh, Howard added: "If he wants to retire, it's fine by me."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 7, 2011 C3

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