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NEWS FEATURE In the mix - curling doubles down at the Games after first gold By Barry Whelan, dpa

Europe, Europa
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Mixed doubles curling makes a successful debut at the Olympic Games and could also help spread the sport‘s popularity around the world.

Pyeongchang, South Korea (dpa) - If mixed doubles curling needs an ambassador they should look no further than John Morris.

The 39-year-old firefighter and new gold medallist from Canada has no doubts the debut discipline in the Winter Olympic should be here to stay and could also spread the word about curling around the globe.

"I think this game of mixed doubles is just fantastic," he said in strong advocacy for the format after winning the inaugural mixed doubles gold for Canada with partner Kaitlyn Lawes.

"It‘s something that everyone back in Canada should try. It‘s fast-paced, athletic, a lot of fun and the beer still tastes just as good after the game.

"I think that it‘s here to stay and I can‘t wait to see how well it does in Canada."

Curling has traditionally been a team game in Canada, who were scrambling to get a mixed doubles programme up and running after its admittance to the Games.

Morris, a gold medallist with the Canada team in Vancouver 2010, and Lawes, 29, a gold medallist with the women‘s team in Sochi 2014, only got together in January for the Canadian Olympic curling trials.

Lawes was brought in as a replacement player after Morris‘s original partner, Rachel Homan, had to bow out as she was already qualified for the Olympics team.

"I honestly didn‘t feel like we were the favourites coming in," Lawes said. "I‘m just so proud of our efforts to be able to compete against the top teams in mixed doubles."

Morris says the game - played over eight ends instead of the traditional 10 - is not only faster and more athletic but it‘s easier to get a game of two against two together than four against four. It also demands a more attacking approach.

"The game of mixed doubles, the strategy is offence and that‘s why I think it‘s such a great sport," he said.

"Unlike team curling, where you can maybe coast and play really defensive, you‘ve got to keep the pressure on here.

"It‘s a really fun sport and the Olympics really helps expose new and unique sports to the rest of the world. If that lets other people try the sport of curling for the first time, I think that‘s wonderful."

The victory in the final over Switzerland, earning Canada a sixth Olympic Games gold medal in curling, came after the Swiss pair of Jenny Perret and Martin Rios conceded at 10-3 down after the sixth end.

Morris had said earlier in the tournament he "got really lucky" that Lawes was available. And as the two sat side by side before the press shortly after victory Friday in the Gangneung Curling Centre, Morris was unstinting in his praise for Lawes and the team "dynamics."

"I call her Mighty Mouse...she can sweep better than a lot of men out there," he said. "She packs a big punch and makes a lot of clutch shots."

Curling fans now include US actor Mr T of "The A-Team" fame, who has tweeted his new-found interest in the sport after watching the mixed pairs, Morris was told.

"We would accept a challenge from Mr T," Morris said. "Maybe not an arm-wrestling challenge, but maybe a mixed doubles curling challenge if he‘s around."


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