Australia make history and qualify for Beijing 2022 Mixed Doubles Event

Team Australia © WCF / Steve Seixeiro

Australia faced Korea in Thursday afternoon’s first of two Qualification Finals of the OQE2021 with only the winner going on to take a place in the line-up of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games.

Because they came into the game as group winners, Australia started with last-stone advantage, but it was Korea who opened the scoring when Australia’s Tahli Gill wrecked on the way into the house with her final draw, giving Korea a steal of one.

In the second end, Gill could not move the second of two target stones with a double take-out and stay attempt and had to settle for just one point to level the game at 1-1.

Korea built up the house well in the third end, and with her last weighted delivery, Australia’s Gill could only remove three of four Korean stones, leaving Korea’s Kim Minji with a – well-swept – draw to score two points and take a 3-1 lead.

In the fourth end, Gill caught a front stone with her final stone, and Australia had to settle for a single point through a stone already in position, to give Korea a 3-2 lead at the break.

When play resumed in the fifth end, Australia’s Gill completely missed her target stone in a double take-out attempt, but hit its neighbour, to fluke the double take-out anyway.

This meant that Korea’s Kim could only draw for a score of one point that took her team’s lead to 4-2.

Australia’s Tahli Gill © WCF / Steve Seixeiro

Australia called a power play in the sixth end and managed to clear out Korean stones early.  Eventually, Tahli Gill produced a nose-hit on the only Korean stone in the house to score three points and take a 5-4 lead.

Australia had a stone on the button when Korea came to play their last stone of the seventh end and Kim Minji accurately picked it out, to score one point through another of her team’s stones lying at the back of the house. This levelled the score at 5-5.

In the eighth end, Australia’s Gill used the backing of the one Korean stone lying in the house to draw for the one point that gave her team a 6-5 win and a place in the Olympic Games.

Afterwards, a delighted Tahli Gill said, “It’s still sinking in a little bit.”

And speaking about her key final stone she said, “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 focussed 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.”

Her partner Dean Hewitt said, “Making that three in the power play, that turned things around a lot for us.”

More generally, he added, “It’s amazing. 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. We’ve had so much support from home, we can’t thank them enough. We’ve been away from home for three months and two days, and we’re going straight back to Canada for a few more months.”

Russia now face United Sates in the second Qualification Final for the last available slot on the Olympic line-up.

First Qualification Final result: Australia 6-5 Korea

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Leeuwarden, Netherlands

9 December 2021
Olympic Qualification Event 2021