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Ruthless Canada win third straight gold

By Keith Weir

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Canada crushed Britain 9-3 on Friday to win the men's Olympic curling title for the third successive time and complete a golden double after their women also triumphed.

Led by skip Brad Jacobs, the Canadians were far too clinical for a British team seeking a first men's Olympic title since 1924 but who made a series of errors from the off and were never in contention.

With the match realistically out of reach, British skip David Murdoch conceded after the eighth of the 10 ends.

Canada is home to the majority of the world's curlers but it is the first time they have won both women's and men's titles at an Olympics.

Their women triumphed by winning every match and Jacobs said he was surprised at the margin of his team's victory.

"I'm a little surprised, I was really expecting to have to make my last one, or be in a nail-biter," he told reporters.

"You never expect to go out there and blow a team out. That's what happened today. We'll take the win any way we can get it," he added.

Sweden earlier beat China 6-4 to take the bronze, clinching the game in an extra end.

"KICK IN THE TEETH"

Britain's progress to the final had stirred massive interest in the sport back home, with social media buzzing with pictures of people practicing curling moves at home or in their offices.

However, British dreams were dashed quickly by a Canadian team who were new to the Games but who had come through a tough domestic qualifying competition without losing.

Canada took an early 2-0 lead in the first end and were 5-1 up after a 3-0 in the third.

The contest was effectively over in the fourth end when Murdoch had a straightforward shot for a two but overcooked it. After a measurement, the Canadians took a point so instead of trailing 5-3, the Britons were looking at an impossible 6-1.

"We didn't get off to a good start and that's what really killed us," said Murdoch.

However, he said he would ultimately take pride in silver - the country's first medal since they won gold in 1924 - after Britain's women won bronze on Thursday.

"It feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth. You know, once you put that game to bed and realize what we have achieved, it's incredible for a young bunch of guys," he added.

Britain had a roller coaster ride to the final. Looking safely on course for the semis they managed to lose their last three qualifiers, forcing them into a playoff against Norway which they won with a brilliant last stone by Murdoch.

They looked up against it in their semi-final with world champions Sweden too until a last-stone blunder by Niklas Edin allowed Murdoch to send his team into the final for the first time since the sport was re-introduced to the Games in 1998

British coach Soren Gran had criticized the Canadian team for their "aggressive style" in a genteel sport, comments that had been amplified by the Canadian media in the run-up to the final.

The Canadian team, essentially a family affair featuring Jacobs and his cousins, the brothers Ryan and E.J. Harnden, were simply too precise for a British team who played below their best and had no need to resort to any motivational devices.

Jacobs said Gran's comments were an extra motivation.

"I really think that was a big mistake on his part. I really believe in karma and I think that's what you maybe saw out there tonight," he said.

(Additional reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond/Mitch Phillips)

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