Canadian curlers inspired by impromptu national anthem

Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:23am EST
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By Jeffrey Jones

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Canadian men's curling team took inspiration from a loud impromptu rendition of their national anthem to beat world champions Britain 7-6 on Saturday.

In what was billed as a possible preview of the Olympic gold medal game, captain Kevin Martin's Canadians prevailed in a tough fluctuating struggle with their longtime rivals.

Martin scored two points in the last end to seal victory but both teams were left gobsmacked by an unusual display of patriotism by most of the 5,600 fans at the Vancouver Olympic Center.

With Britain leading by one in the last end, the crowd began belting out "O Canada" en masse, forcing the curlers to halt play until the song ended.

"That's amazing -- I don't know if that's ever happened in a curling game before," Canadian curler Marc Kennedy told reporters. "It's unbelievable the support we've got out there. It's like a fifth man out there. It keeps us positive even when things aren't going so well."

The Canadian team, unbeaten after six matches, said they had ample time left to play, so they just let the crowd take over.

"That's one you'll want to put in the old memory bank in the back of your head, because I've never heard that in any sport that I've ever been to or watched on TV," Martin said.

Boisterous fans have packed the curling venue on each day of the round-robin competition and have been particularly loud when Canada play.   Continued...

<p>Canada's skip Kevin Martin (L) shakes hands with Britain's skip David Murdoch (R) after Canada defeated Britain during their men's round robin curling game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 20, 2010. Also pictured is Britain's Ewan MacDonald. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford</p>