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Canmore curler John Morris hints Beijing may be last Olympics as athlete

"I’m going to take a little time off, but I’ll be back throwing rocks pretty soon to get ready for the Tim Hortons Brier in Lethbridge."

BEIJING – After being eliminated from the Beijing Olympics, another four-year run might not be in the cards for Canmore's John Morris.

Italy proved to be an unstoppable force in mixed doubles curling, knocking out all challengers including Canada, before securing gold over Norway on Tuesday (Feb. 8) at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games.

The Italians – Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner – were also the hammer that officially knocked out Morris and Rachel Homan from the Olympics in a do-or-die game for the Canucks before playoffs.

"Rachel will be back at the Olympics, no doubt, but this might be my last one as a player," said Morris in a Curling Canada blog post.

Morris, at 43, is the oldest Canadian athlete in Beijing. The combined age of Constantini and Mosaner is 48.

"I don’t have a lot left in the tank for another four-year run. But I still have gas in the tank this season. We’re flying home later this week, and I know we both can’t wait to see our families; it’s been a long spell away from them, and being around our kids really makes all the other troubles go away."

Morris and Team Kevin Koe are Alberta's representatives at the 2022 Brier in March.

RELATED: John Morris: Bow Valley's Beijing Bound Athletes

Canada went 5-4 in round robin action, losing its opening game 6-4 to Great Britain before reeling off three straight against Norway (7-6), Switzerland (7-5) and China (8-6). Canada then defeated U.S.A, 7-2, before losing 6-2 to Sweden, who would go on to win bronze.

Canada picked up its fifth win against Norway before being upset by Australia, Morris’ pupils.

In Canada’s final game, it came down to the final stone, which saw Italy winning in an extra end by mere millimetres.

“I know you’re all disappointed, and so are we,” said Morris. “This wasn’t what we envisioned when we flew to Beijing … but I can tell you we left it all on the ice. [Homan] and I did everything we could, and we wore that Maple Leaf with pride. It just didn’t go our way today.”

“I’m extremely proud of the way Rachel and I did here, even if it didn’t always show up on the scoreboard,” Morris said. “We never quit. Not once. We were always in there fighting. We couldn’t be prouder to be Canadian curlers, and to have a chance to represent the best country in the world at the Olympics is something we both treasure.”

Team Australia, which has been coached by Morris for the past few years and held its pre-Beijing training camp in Canmore, had a wild ending to its mixed doubles run.

Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt, Australia’s historic first ever Olympic curling representatives for the country, announced on Saturday (Feb. 5) its Olympic campaign had ended after Gill returned a series of positive COVID-19 tests late that day.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) planned to bring the duo home and Gill packed her bags and took to social media: "Over a month ago, I tested positive for COVID and unfortunately my body has just been really slow at shedding off dead virus, so even though I'm not infectious and haven't been infectious for a while now we've had to end our Olympic campaign, which is absolutely devastating."

They were set to forfeit their final two games against PyeongChang's gold and silver medallists, Canada and Switzerland, when in a surprising turn of events, the Chinese Public Health System sent a last-minute advisory to the AOC that Gill and Hewitt could continue under the close contact provisions.

According to the AOC, the medical expert panel examined Gill's CT (cycle threshold) values following PCR testing over the past 24 hours and determined that they "fell into an acceptable range."

Australia, who was 0-7 in the round robin at that point, rushed to its game against Switzerland, where Gill and Hewitt made history again, winning 9-6, and claiming the country's first win in curling at the Olympics.

Flying high, Australia then battled Canada and got out to an incredible 7-0 lead after four ends. Morris and Homan made it interesting and clawed back into the game, tying it at 8-8, and forcing an extra end.

However, the Aussies held off the comeback and won 10-8 to set up Canada's do or die game against Italy.

"I hope Canadian curling fans understand just how hard it is at the Olympics," said Morris. "There’s never been a better field in mixed doubles curling, and all 10 teams here couldn’t have won a gold medal. There’s zero doubt in my mind of that."

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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