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Rhona Martin MBE (born 12 October 1966, Ayrshire, as Rhona Howie) is a Scottish curler who has skipped the Scotland women's team at both the European and World Championships. She is most famous as the skip of the Great Britain team that claimed the gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games in 2002.

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 [hide*1 Career

Career[edit]Edit

Early career[edit]Edit

Martin was long known in Scottish curling circles for her uncanny knack of repeatedly failing to win the national championships at the final hurdle, but finally won the right to appear in a major international championship in 1998, where she was skip of the Scotland team that won a silver medal at the European Curling Championships. With some significant changes in personnel, she returned to the championships in Chamonix the following year, where the team was narrowly edged out of the medal placings.

In 2000, Martin's quartet won the Scottish championships, defeating the team led by former Olympic skip Kirsty Hay in the final, and were therefore entitled to represent Scotland at the World Curling Championships, held that year on home soil in Glasgow. They performed well at the worlds, with a particular highlight of defeating the Canadian side skipped by Kelley Law in the round-robin stage of the competition. However, Law earned her revenge against Scotland in the semi-finals, leading Canada to a 10-6 win, Martin's team was disappointed after missing out on a medal by losing 10-5 to Dordi Nordby's Norwegian outfit in the subsequent play-off.

2002 Olympics[edit]Edit

The fourth-place finish at the Worlds left the team well-placed to secure its place as Great Britain's representatives at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, selection for which was based on performances in the European and World Championships over the whole four-year Olympic cycle. Crucially, though, changes in the team's line-up meant that the European silver medal in 1998 was discounted, leaving the door open for the team skipped by former world junior champion Julia Ewart, which represented Scotland at the 2001 World Championships in Lausanne. Ewart recovered from a slow start to string together an extraordinary sequence of wins; a gold for Scotland would take Ewart and her teammates to the Olympics, and a silver would result in a special play-off to decide the selection. However, Scotland were derailed in the semi-final by Sweden, allowing Martin's team to represent Scotland in Salt Lake City.

After battling illness, Martin arrived in Salt Lake City, and she and her teammates found their Olympic form early, reaching the brink of qualification for the semi-finals by winning five out of their first seven matches. However, the USA team came back to win against Martin's with a steal, and her team then succumbed to Germany in the concluding round-robin match. The team's chances of progressing were thus taken out of their hands, with a Swiss win over Germany required to keep them in contention. That duly materialised, but they were still left with the daunting task of winning two successive tie-break matches just to reach the semi-finals.

However, Martin and her team were dominant in the first tie-break match against the multiple world championship-winning Sweden rink, and then defeated Germany to reach the semis. Awaiting them there was Kelley Law's Canadian rink, who three members of Martin's team had lost to while playing for Scotland at the same stage of the 2000 World Championships. Martin's team surged to an unexpected win, guaranteeing them a medal. That medal then turned from a likely silver to an actual gold after Rhona successfully judged an incredibly difficult draw with her last stone in the final against Switzerland. The team of Martin, Debbie KnoxFiona MacDonald and Janice Rankin thus became Great Britain's first gold medallists in any sport at the Winter Olympics since Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean danced to "Bolero" in 1984. Later that year, Martin was awarded an MBE for services to curling.[1]

Post-Olympic career[edit]Edit

The team lost to Jackie Lockhart's rink in the three-match final of the Scottish Championships, played within days of their return to Scotland. However, Lockhart subsequently made headlines by winning the world championships for Scotland, and by selecting precisely the same stone used by Martin to seal victory in the Olympics for her own winning delivery. The ubiquitous rock was dubbed the Stone of Destiny, and is now housed in a Scottish sports museum.

In 2005, Martin was back on the world stage, when her all-star team (including Lockhart at the second position) finished fifth at the European Championships.[2]

Prior to the 2006 Winter Olympics, it was reported that Martin was living on welfare and that her financial problems were causing her to live apart from her husband. Her husband Keith had recently had trouble with his computer business, and they were forced to move into government housing.[3] Martin had considered quitting curling, but her two children encouraged her to stay. Martin skipped the British Olympic team to the 2006 Winter Olympics.[4] Despite the team's best efforts, Martin's squad was knocked out of the 2006 Winter Olympics after beating the USA 10-4 in six ends. They would have advanced if Denmark had beaten Canada in their match, but although the Danish team levelled at 8 - 8, Canada took 1 in the last end, knocking out the GB team and depriving Martin and her team of the opportunity to defend their Gold medal from 2002.[5]

In 2007 after a 24 year career, Rhona decided to halt playing for the time being and focus on coaching. She then spent 3 years doing the UK Sport Elite Coach Programme whilst delivering the Performance Development Coach role within the national governing body for curling, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, looking after the National and Regional Academies.

Martin joined the BBC commentary team for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, overseeing the curling along with Steve Cram.Prior to this Rhona has also made several TV guest appearances on shows like; A Question of Sport, The Games, The Weakest Link, This Morning, GMTV, BBC News, NBC, Sky News and Through the Keyhole.

In 2010 Rhona was appointed as the new women’s head coach of the British and Scottish curling performance squad and is part of a 5 strong coaching team looking forward to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Rhona is working hard on a daily basis with the athletes and will be responsible for the ladies team in Sochi.[citation needed]

2012 saw Rhona be part of the London 2012 Olympic torch relay, taking the flame through Glasgow in June to be cheered on by countless Scots. She also attended many Olympics events in London in her role as a games ambassador.

2012 also saw Rhona inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame. [6]

Awards[edit]Edit

  • Frances Brodie Award: 2000
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