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Border's Olympic blog: Curlers prepare for Sochi test

Great Britain's David Murdoch (C) with Michael Goodfellow (L) during curling training at the Ice Cube Curling Centre. Photo: PA

A major sporting event happened this weekend and I was way off the pace. At the heart of the Winter Olympics, I was shamefully behind events and had to rely on other people to tell me what was going on. But, the fact that I had to follow the Six Nations on Twitter becauseI could not find it on TV or online out here is not your concern, and surely not what you want from me here.

This week our local athletes get into the thick of the action in Sochi, I have now met them all and they are ready for battle.

Team GB’s curlers are among the strongest medal contenders the country have sent to Russia. Lockerbie’s Anna Sloan andClaire Hamilton are key figures in the women’s team. The reigning world champions start their campaign on Monday against a Swedish side who are among their fiercest rivals for the gold medal.

Anna and Claire were relaxed at the team’s pre-games press conference and said that the pressure of expectation wasn’t a worry as they prepare to take to the ice.

I also interviewed men’s captain David Murdoch, also from Lockerbie, (A Lockerbien, Lockerbite?) about their prospects of winning a medal. He too was confident and focussed, but off camera our conversation strayed away from the art of propelling stone at stone over ice. When I introduced myself and explained that I was from ITV Border we soon got to talking about growing up in the region, A casual mention of Eric the Monkey took us both back to childhood days, Now, if you are under 30 or moved into the area after the mid-eighties this may be confusing.

Eric was a puppet who read out children’s birthday cards on Border when David and I were but small things. Well he didn’t read them himself, obviously, but he was the main focus of the whole “Border Birthdays” slot, in the same way that Edd the Duck and Gordon the Gopher ruled the roost over other children’s shows of the era.

There will be no monkey business on the ice however,David’s team have a tough opener against the host nation Russia on Monday as well. It will be a big encounter for the boys and has the opportunity to set the tone for their medal push.

David King, our figure skater from Curthwaite is also in action with his partner Stacey Kemp this week. In the team event they had a setback when a missed lift saw Stacey take a tumble. The pair are targeting a top ten finish and they are more than capable of achieving it.

Last time I wrote I told you about Tima, the taxi driver who has been so helpful as I try to keep you up to date on events herein Sochi. He continues to be a vital cog in my work here. Yesterday he picked me up at Sochi Station on his day off, concerned that other drivers may have upped their fares with the influx of tourists. I promised to play him the Pogues the other day, I failed. My new phone hasn’t copied my CD collection properly. I will find a way. A man who has not heard Fairytale of New York has not lived.

Before I go I’ll return to the world of stitched animals with imaginary personalities. In the absence of a cameraman I have brought my old teddy bear to Sochi with me. In the Media Centre he has proved far more interesting to people than I. I’ve never been asked for a photo.

It promises to be a busy week for Border athletes, I hope that Tima, Bear and I can pass on a flavour of the action.

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