• Jason Regan

Oly curling berth in sight for Aussies

Australia's curling duo of Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt is one win from a historic Olympic berth after an unbeaten run in the final qualification tournament in the Netherlands.

With two mixed doubles spots up for grabs for the Beijing Games in February, Gill and Hewitt are unbeaten after six rounds of the 14-nation competition in Leeuwarden.

Since becoming a full Olympic medal sport in 1998, Australia has yet to qualify a curling athlete but Gill and Hewitt have a maiden spot in sight.

They topped Pool A while the USA were also unbeaten to win Pool B, with both teams skipping past the first round of play-offs.

Australia will face the winner of a clash between South Korea and Hungary, with both looming as tough encounters.

Playing in Pool B, South Korea only dropped one match while the Australians edged Hungary with a 7-6 extra-end in their pool meeting.

In that match, Australia led 6-4 as the teams played the eighth end, and Hungary then scored two points to level the game at 6-6 and force an extra end. 

In that end, Gill drew her last shot into the four-foot ring to score one and win the contest 7-6. 

"That was a crucial one," 27-year-old Hewitt told worldcurling.org.
"Getting that first place in the pool is really key for that bye through to the final."
Placing fourth in the 2019 world championships in Norway, 22-year-old Gill said they were used to dealing with pressure situations.
"We knew that as soon as we opened it up, I just had to draw with my last," she said of her crucial final draw in the extra end.
"We've practised that so many times, it was just … taking a deep breath and throwing the line and the weight."

Gill is from Brisbane and Hewitt is from Victoria, and both are from curling families.

Hewitt's father, Steve, was part of an Australian team that competed at the Albertville Olympics in 1992 when it was a demonstration sport.