The Japanese rink, skipped by Satsuki Fujisawa, secured a hard fought and tense 5-3 victory over Great Britain in the bronze medal match of the PyeongChang 2018 women’s curling tournament on 24 February.
Going into the final end the match was still in the balance, with the Japanese leading 4-3, but with Eve Muirhead, the British skip, holding the “hammer”.
However, in a moment of high drama, Muirhead misplaced her final stone as she gambled for two points that would have secured bronze. Instead it left the Japanese to claim an extra point, and a place on the podium.
“It's the first medal for Japan so it's history," smiled the Japanese rink’s Canadian coach J.D. Lind. “That is something this country has been trying to do since the Nagano [Winter] Olympics [in 1998] so to finally get to do that, it's a huge day for sure.
The match was a tight, defensive, tactical affair from start to finish with neither rink putting up more than one point per end, so ultimately Muirhead’s error in the 10th proved crucial.
“Of course I am absolutely gutted. As a team we gave it everything, we didn't leave anything out there,” said Muirhead, winner of a bronze at Sochi 2014. “As a skip it is hard to take when you have a shot to win.
“The shot was there, that's why I went for it. Curling comes down to inches and if that had curled another centimetre we would have had the bronze medal around our necks.”