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Australia Australian curlers qualify for Beijing Winter Olympic Games for first time

00:21  09 april  2022
00:21  09 april  2022 Source:   msn.com

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Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt will be Australia's first curling representatives at a Winter Games. (WCF: Steve Seixeiro) © Provided by ABC Grandstand Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt will be Australia's first curling representatives at a Winter Games. (WCF: Steve Seixeiro)

Australia will have representation in curling at the Winter Olympics for the very first time in Beijing.

Dean Hewitt and Tahli Gill earned Australia's first quota spot in the mixed doubles at this week's Olympic qualification event in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands overnight.

"It's still sinking in a little bit," Gill said.

"We went into this event wanting to qualify, wanting to be in that final game, and we knew we had to win almost all of our games in the round-robin.

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"So we just took it one game at a time, and as soon as we did that game we'd reset, and go fresh into the next one.

"[We're] just super-thrilled to be where we are right now."

Hewitt, 27, said that it was "amazing" to be heading to Beijing.

"I called Tahli about three and half years ago and said, 'Look, do you want to make a run at these Olympics?'

"We've been working so hard over the past few months and the past couple of years, and it's all paid off."

The pair won all seven of their matches at the qualification event in The Netherlands, including a nail-biting final against Korea, 6-5 in a match that went down to the final end.

Sitting 4-2 down through five ends, Gill made the most of a power play to score three points and take the lead in the sixth end.

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"Making that three in the power play, that turned things around a lot for us," Hewitt said.

Having re-taken the lead, 22-year-old Gill was able to keep her composure to dislodge a Korean stone in the house in the final end to win the point, and the match.

"As basic as it sounds, I thought I've just got to throw the right split and the right line. I took a really deep breath and that was all I focused on.

"I didn't think about it being a shot to go to the Olympics or anything like that. I knew I had to throw the right line and weight."

Australia 'a tough place to curl in'

Hewitt said the journey to Beijing had been a long one, made even more arduous due to COVID complications and a lack of suitable rinks in Australia.

"There was a whole year there basically last year where I didn't even throw a [single] rock, which was pretty tough," Hewitt said.

"Then having to go to Worlds this year, and not being able to qualify during that event, was difficult, because it meant we had to come home, quarantine and have to come back over to Canada to train some more before this event.

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"So it has been a long journey. We've played juniors for many years now, had so many losses I can't even count, but you have to work your way from the bottom to get to the top.

"Australia's a really tough country to curl in, because we don't have any dedicated curling ice.

"To perform against these top teams you've got to work really hard and we've put the training time in this year and it's paid off."

Hewitt and Gill are now set to return to Canada to prepare ahead of next year's Games,.

The mixed curling event in Beijing is set to get underway on February 2 at the National Aquatics Centre, also known as the Water Cube, the same venue that hosted swimming at the 2008 Summer Games.

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