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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Former Brier winner Rocque looks to curling's future in his role as China coach

Posted: 02/19/2014 2:01 PM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 02/19/2014 3:51 PM

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SOCHI, Russia - Wearing his yellow China jacket, four-time Brier champion Marcel Rocque was looking well beyond a 10-6 loss to Canada in the Olympic men's curling semifinal Wednesday.

He was seeing a better future for his sport.

"You know what, it wasn't easy for me to sign on and say I was going to fight against my country," said the 42-year-old from Edmonton now leading China's curling charge. "That's not an easy thing. I did it for curling. And if curling becomes stronger in China, it's good for curling around the world.

"We need all the countries to be in these events that can win. We can't just have two, three countries that can potentially win. You need everyone to have a really good chance at performing and having an opportunity to succeed here. And when that happens, our game's going to be in really good shape and that's why I agree to this."

Rocque signed a 10-month contact to coach the Chinese men's and women's teams that expires at the end of April.

Women's skip Bingyu (Betty) Wang, who won Olympic bronze in 2010 in Vancouver and a world title in 2009, was expected to contend for a medal here. Instead she exited the round-robin with a 4-5 record.

But men's skip Rui Liu was a surprise third-place finisher with a 7-2 mark in the round-robin that included a 9-8 extra-end loss to Canada.

Rocque had hoped to meet Canada in the final. Instead Brad Jacobs' rink goes for gold against Britain while Liu plays Sweden for the bronze medal Thursday.

"I know as an athlete, this will sting a little bit," said Rocque. "But if there's no regrets in terms of them fighting for everything out there today, they'll be able to park it and they'll be able to hopefully refocus and hopefully not lose confidence and go out there and have a really solid game."

A medal and the Olympic curling competition can still be a success for the Chinese. China's men have yet to step on the curling podium at the Games.

Rocque, who won the Brier four times and the world championship three times playing lead for Randy Ferbey between 2001 and 2005, says his men will learn from Wednesday's loss to a Brad Jacobs rink forged in the competitive cauldron of Canadian curling.

And he paid tribute to China's competitive spirit on the day, while noting inexperience may have cost his charges.

"We threw out a guard and we said 'Let's play.' Credit to my Chinese team for having that confidence and belief," said Rocque.

"We forced Canada to (take) one in the first end. The second end they gave us an opportunity and we didn't seize that moment. And if you take advantage of that situation, your third end is a little bit different. If you can put two ends together, that game could have went to the wire like the last one (the round-robin meeting) did. And I'm not saying that that would have made the difference but that would have changed the whole flow and the feel of that game.

"And instead of capitalizing on a couple of little mistakes, the players just kind of lost their momentum and the Canadians gained their momentum. That's the story."

The experience gained Wednesday, while painful, will help down the line, Rocque added.

"Although your dream is right there and you can feel it and you can smell it and you can almost taste it, you still don't know how you're going to perform," he said. "I'm satisfied that they did everything they could."

Rocque, who retired as a player after 2010, initially turned down Chinese attempts to secure his coaching services. But eventually, after consulting the Canadian Curling Association and securing a sabbatical from his Edmonton teaching job, he signed on.

Beijing is the host city of the 2014 men's world curling championship in April.

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