Awful night for British teams
Murdoch and Minichiello see medal dreams melt in Vancouver
Last Updated: 25/02/10 8:19am
Minichello escapes with bruised pride
It was a woeful night for British medal contenders as the men's curling team and Nicola Minichiello's bobsleigh both crashed out.
Minichiello's Olympic dream turned sour when she lost control of her sled on the third run, flipping it over before sliding down the track with both her and team-mate Nicola Cooke trapped inside.
The pair, who had already blown their chances by finishing in 10th after two runs, escaped largely unscathed although they opted against taking part in the fourth run with Cooke complaining of a minor leg injury.
"We're devastated. It's everything we've been training for and working for for the past 15 years," said Minichiello.
"After yesterday we just had to go for it. We knew it was going to take everything we had but we just lost it.
"We just pushed a little bit too much. We just let it ride a bit too much. We came out of curve 11 and just pulled it and it tipped. That's it."
Paula Walker and Kelly Thomas, who stood 14th after the first two heats, improved to a creditable 11th place finish, 3.90 seconds behind the winners, Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyes of Canada.
"This is our first Olympic Winter Games and we're absolutely over the moon that we've come so far," Walker said. "Eleventh is higher than our world ranking."
David Murdoch's curlers, like Minichiello, had entered the Games with gold medal aspirations but they failed to make the semi-finals after going 7-6 to Sweden in an extra-end play-off.
Murdoch made a poor start as they slipped behind 5-2, but hit back by winning successive ends against the hammer.
However, a golden opportunity slipped by in the 10th end when his set-up for a potentially match-winning two missed by inches.
A dejected Murdoch said: "It's heartbreaking - it's the worst result possible as far as the team is concerned.
"We just put ourselves in a position where every game mattered so much at the end of the week. We had our backs to the wall and we just didn't finish off matches the way we're used to.
"We did everything we possibly could for the last two years. We trained six days a week and practised as much as we possibly could and came into this week as world champions. But sometimes weeks just don't go for you.
"We weren't sharp at all. We gave them a head-start but the team showed a lot of character and in the last five ends we curled the way we should have been curling.
"In the 10th end my rock was over-swept - another inch and I'd have been standing here with a smile on my face and in the semi-finals, but it's not to be."
However, there is still hope for another British medal after short-track racer Jon Eley qualified for the final of the 500m on Friday.
Eley, who reached the final of the same event in Turin four years ago, said: "I've definitely learned from the last Olympic Games. I've said all along I'm here to win a medal and that's what I'm aiming to do.
"I was disappointed with the start but I put it right and all that matters is I'm through to the next round."