From left, Canada's Karen Blachford, Sonja Gaudet, Gary Cormack, Gerry Austgarden, and Chris Daw celebrate after beating Great Britain 7-4 to clinch the gold medal of the Wheelchair Curling, at the Turin 2006 Winter Paralympic Games, in Pinerolo, Italy, Saturday, March 18, 2006. (AP Photo/Alberto Ramella)
It took 22 years for Londoner Chris Daw to get it around his neck.
"It's never coming off . . . never," said Daw of the precious piece of metal.
Daw earned a curling gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Turin, Italy, yesterday by skipping Canada to a win over Britain's Frank Duffy in front of a boisterous, packed arena.
"I'm going to watch the hockey game and it's staying around my neck," said Daw from Turin.
Daw had a strong Olympics, making tough shot after tough shot. The most difficulty he had was trying to describe the feeling of being an Olympic champion.
"It's . . . it's . . . you know, I have ah, ah, you just get lost for words," he said. "It's every little boy's dream and I got a chance to play along with the fantasy. But it's not a fantasy any longer."
Daw's rink defeated Britain 7-4 when skip Frank Duffy missed an open takeout attempt with his final rock of the game. With Canada leading 6-4, Britain had three rocks in the house and the last rock. All the two-time world champion had to do was remove the only Canadian stone counting.
It's the first time wheelchair curling was held at the Paralympic Games.
"In all honesty, it's the only time in my whole life that I've felt that I jumped," Daw said.
For a wheelchair curler to jump, that's pretty good," said Daw.
"Words can't describe it. It can't be described how proud I am of not only winning, but of being able to look up and see the flag rising and hear the national anthem and sing along with it."
As the national anthem was played, his team of third Gerry Austgarden, second Gary Cormack and lead Sonja Gaudet, all of British Columbia and alternate Karen Blachford of London, linked arms as tears came down their faces.
Another Londoner, Trevor Kerr is the equipment manager for the team.
"It's a huge journey for us, not only as a team but wheelchair curling as a whole," said Daw. "It's a huge opportunity for our sport to grow and be immensely populated with new curlers who want to go out and hit the ice."
Daw, 37, has been in a wheelchair all his life. He was born without the use of his leg muscles. He wasn't supposed to live six weeks.
The spirit of an Olympic champion was in him even back them.
Daw's father, Ivan, eventually got him involved in athletics. Daw represented Canada at the 1984 Paralympics in Stoke,
England, in athletics and in 2000 in Sydney in rugby. He has
participated in many world championships.
Curling is a relatively new endeavour for the burly, barrel-chested athlete.
And as he celebrates this golden moment his thoughts are always with his wife, Mari, his parents, Ivan and Eleanor, and his three children, Pamela,
Channetelle and Kyle who attend Wilfrid Jury elementary school. His parents have never seen him compete internationally. His dad isn't able to travel.
"One of the greatest moments for me was to hear my wife's voice congratulating me, yelling and screaming on the phone," said Daw. "The sacrifice my wife, Mari, and my kids have made has been tremendous. We've been away an awful lot this year.
"The other unforgettable moment was calling my mom and dad. My mom was ecstatic. And my dad . . . my dad and I started a journey a long time ago and now it's gone full circle. It's just so great for me to be able to go home with a medal to show him. This is going to be a real moment for me with my dad."
Daw has hinted several times that these Olympics may be it, that it may be time to retire to be with family and do something else.
"I'm not even close to deciding," he said. "Right now, the medal is around my neck and I'm going to enjoy it. I'm here until Friday. I'm going to do a little bit of touring, which I've never done after a Paralympic Games. Now I get to sit back and enjoy not only the moment of being a medallist, but a gold medallist on top of that."