South Korea's tearful 'garlic girls' settle for Olympic silver
Gangneung, Feb 25 (AFP) Tearful South Korea fell agonisingly short in their fairytale bid for women's curling gold today at their home Olympics as they were beaten 8-3 in the final by ruthless Sweden.
Skip Anna Hasselborg's Swedes saw off the so-called "Garlic Girls" in Pyeongchang for the Scandinavians' third Olympic title, after Vancouver in 2010 and Turin four years earlier.
For the Koreans this was the end of a remarkable journey from the eighth-ranked team in the world to Olympic silver medallists.
Skip Kim Eun-jung and her high school team-mates cried as they waved to the crowd after conceding the final after the ninth end.
The Swedes' success, watched by King Carl XVI Gustaf, helped alleviate their male counterparts' pain at losing gold to the United States 24 hours earlier.
Hasselborg was expertly assisted by Sara McManus, Agnes Knochenhauer, Sofia Mabergs and Maria Prytz.
Team Kim's unexpected rise has made them headline news in a country where curling was barely heard of a fortnight ago.
Now it's the hot topic of conversation across the nation.
And of course in their home town of Euiseong too, famous for garlic farming where thousands gathered at a local gymnasium to watch the final from a large projector and cheer on Pancake, Yogurt, Steak, Cookie and Sunny, the nicknames the girls chose to avoid confusion as they all share the same surname, Kim.
- Hammer blow -
Friends and families of the curlers packed the gym, where banners proclaimed: "Let's dig for gold with the same strength we dig for garlic!"
Under the assured guidance of Skip Kim (Yogurt) the 2018 Winter Games' hosts were smart out of the blocks, bagging the first point but the Swedes were 3-1 ahead by the fourth end.
With charismatic Kim biting her lip pensively her opposite number Hasselborg secured another point to put the Swedes 4-1 up at the halfway point of the 10-end game.
Team Kim pulled one back after the restart but their dream was dealt a hammer blow with Sweden picking up three points in the seventh end to make it 7-2.
Urged on by noisy support from the near 3,000-crowd at the Gangneung Curling Centre the Koreans nicked a point to go 7-3 but the Swedes got two in the next and skip Kim extended her hand to her opposite number to concede the final.
Japan defeated Britain to claim the bronze medal