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China toasts first world crown

CHINA'S Wang Bingyu won the women's world championship in Gangneung, South Korea, yesterday with a clinical 8-6 victory over Sweden in the final.

China stretched its winning sequence to 12 in a championship featuring 12 teams, earning a first world title for an Asian team in either women's or men's competition.

The Chinese exchanged misses with Sweden's Anette Norberg in the first few ends before scoring the first deuce in the fourth end for a 3-1 lead.

Led by the impressive Wang, who didn't know what a curling stone was 10 years ago, drew for another pair in the sixth end when the Swedes missed a runback.

Norberg closed the gap to 5-4 when she drew for two in the seventh end.

Wang got two points on measurement in the eighth end for a 7-4 lead before Sweden found its way to wrangle a deuce and closed the gap to one at the end of ninth.

Sweden had one buried behind cover in the final end until Norberg's last stone, which she elected to put into the rings as opposed to guard. Wang faced two choices: a double-takeout or a draw to the four-foot rings.

She elected the takeout, made it perfectly, and China had scored one for an historic championship win.

The victory marked the first time an Asian country - in women's or men's play - has won a curling world title.

"Just so excited," said Wang, who celebrated the win with teammates Liu Yin, Yue Qingshuang, Zhou Yan, Liu Jinli and Canadian coach Dan Raphael. "It's so fantastic. So great."

Wang acknowledged she felt a little nervous before the final, describing the previous night's sleep as "a little bad."

"I was a little nervous and a little excited, but I just told myself, 'one more game. Don't think too much. Just play Sweden,' and we played.

"We lost the final last year, and we really wanted to get the gold. Everybody worked hard, it was a long week."

For veteran Norberg, the silver medal was just fine.

"We were saying before coming here that if we were top four, that's okay for now and that's not our usual goal going into the worlds," she said. "And we finished in the final, so we're happy."

Canada's Jennifer Jones defeated China in the first game of the tournament; China's only blemish in 13 games.

Earlier, Denmark's Angelina Jensen beat Jones 7-6 to win the bronze medal.

"We knew that was going to be tough," Danish fourth thrower Madeleine Dupont said. "It means a lot to us, because I think we have been playing a really good tournament. Unfortunately we didn't make it the last couple of games, but we have been so, so close."


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