Martin says performance not a vindication tale

Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:37pm EST
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By Jeffrey Jones

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - It would be easy to write a script for Canadian curler Kevin Martin telling how a veteran returned to the Olympics eight years after missing a gold medal by a hairsbreadth and gave the performance of a lifetime.

Too easy.

Sure, Martin, the closest thing to a superstar that the sport has, proved unbeatable in the leadup to Thursday's Olympic semi-final. He and his team were poised during the round robin tournament, nailing shot after shot.

Martin, 43, has been especially dangerous with the last rock in close games, but he does not consider it vindication for Salt Lake City, where in 2002 he took a silver medal after an upset loss to Norway.

"I don't think I look at it that way, but I guess you could write it that way," Martin told Reuters. "To me, we've worked really hard since '92, not '02, to get to every Olympics we possibly could."

Martin, known as "the Old Bear," has been asked often if he feels he plays his best curling in Olympic appearances dating back 18 years when it was still a demonstration event. He did not qualify for the 1998 and 2006 Games.

But he has been intractably humble, saying only that he has felt comfortable in the tournament and energized by sold-out crowds at the Vancouver Olympic Center that have provided ear-splitting ruckus on his team's behalf.

Thirty-four years after he took up the sport, he said he is having the time of his life. So forget Salt Lake City.   Continued...

<p>Canada's skip Kevin Martin delivers his shot during their men's round robin curling game against China at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 23, 2010. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford</p>