Kleibrink, mates happy with bronze

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

When a nation is used to dominating a sport the way Canada has in curling, anything less than gold is considered by some to be a major disappointment.

But Shannon Kleibrink and her team couldn't be more proud of their Olympic bronze medals.

Kleibrink, Amy Nixon, Glenys Bakker and Christine Keshen were at the John Labatt Centre yesterday as special guests of Scott Paper, their hefty medals around their necks.

"It's pretty amazing," Klei-brink said of the Olympic experience. "You don't realize what it's really like until you walk in during the opening ceremonies."

That they won a medal at all is impressive, given the overwhelming weight of a country's hopes on their shoulders -- not to mention a rapidly improving pool of world competitors.

"We didn't think of it as expectations," Kleibrink said. "We thought of it as we were the team with the most support there."

But Nixon, the third who spent much of the Olympics battling a stomach ailment, said the team wasn't oblivious to it, either.

"There is pretty immense pressure playing in the Olympics and you know there are people watching who really want you to win, so I was aware we were under a microscope."

That focus got even tighter after a semifinal loss to Switzerland, but to their credit, the Canadians beat Norwegian veteran Dordi Nordby for the bronze.

"It didn't take us long to bounce back -- maybe an hour," Kleibrink said. "To have any kind of Olympic medal is amazing and to us, fourth place would have been a failure."

Keshen, the lead, said standing on the Olympic podium was one of the better memories she had.

"There were people as far as you could see in the medal plaza -- maybe 100,000. There wasn't a single square inch that wasn't occupied."

Ironically, Nixon never had to take a doping test, despite her illnesses.

"Zero, baby," she said, drawing a laugh from the media. "But everything I took was legal, though.

"The thing I remember most is that I've never felt so physically terrible at an event like this and to go through that with all the support I had was unbelievable.

"If you'd told me in August, 'Amy, you're going to go to the Olympics and but you're not going to feel very well for a week, but you're going to win the bronze medal. It's that or nothing,' I'd have said, 'Yeah, I'll take it.'

"The neatest thing has been being able to put my medal into young people's hands. The kids don't care if it's not gold; they just want to hold it."

It's clear the rink already realizes how unique this experience may be in their lives.

"A lot of people say, 'Next time, it'll be gold,' or 'See you at the next Olympics,' but personally, I'll be really shocked if we're all back to repeat," said Bakker, the second, who had daughter Sara six months ago. "I'm on maternity leave and four years is a long time for things to happen, so this is really special to me."

Nixon concurred.

"We're four very different people in four very different places in our lives. I'm quite aware of the number of people who have got back to an Olympics and it's not many, so I'm going to relish this while I'm here."


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