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Chinese women beat Swiss for curling bronze medal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Wang Bingyu gave her coach good reason to celebrate and be proud: China is going home with some hardware in its Olympic curling debut.

Wang, better known as "Betty," and the world champion Chinese women bounced back from a semifinal loss to defending champion Sweden to earn a bronze medal Friday, beating Switzerland 12-6 in a shortened eight-end match.

"We just were thinking this is our last Olympic game," Wang said. "We just wanted to play well. Yesterday we lost and let it go quickly. Of course (I'm thrilled). Now I think I can really relax."

Four days earlier, China's Canadian-bred coach, Dan Rafael, questioned his players' passion following a shortened 7-4 nine-end loss to Russia. The Chinese women proved him otherwise. They broke into tears and rushed to Rafael on the bench with a long embrace.

"It took awhile, but the real Team China finally showed up," said Rafael, who shed some tears of his own. "Last night we had a team meeting and I said: 'Look, you think that game was important and a lot of pressure to try to get to the gold-medal game. The gold-medal game is no pressure. You win gold, you win silver, it's one or the other. This game, who remembers who finished fourth at the last Olympics? Nobody, except the fourth-place team.'"

China scored three in the first end and a deuce in the third for a 5-1 lead, but the Swiss came back with a three-spot in the fourth and two more points in the sixth to tie it at 6. Wang's team, made up of a former hockey player and three ex-speedskaters from the city of Harbin, answered with two points in the seventh and four in the eighth to eliminate any hope of a comeback.

This was a big disappointment for Swiss skip Mirjam Ott, who had brought home silver medals from the last two Olympics.

Ott never found a groove during these games and was hurt by inconsistent shot-making.

"I struggled quite a lot," she said. "It was not my day. I fought back but at the eighth end I had this terrible rock. I cannot explain why. The last two silver medals are not a factor. We just wanted to go for a medal with this team. We had a hard week and really fought. It just didn't work out."

Rafael, who's from Montreal, has said he plans to leave his position with China once his contract expires June 30. Wang said he told the players he believed in them.

"He knows we can do that," she said.