London, August 27 (ANI): English bridge players, who emerged victorious at the World Mind Sports Games, secured their success by a secret weapon - a dab of lavender oil, it has been revealed.
There was dedication, heroic endurance and dazzling skill, fierce rivalry and even drugs testing, but in the end there was a victory for England, secured by a secret weapon which had apparently irritated the French.
Last week the six members of the England women's bridge team won gold medals for the game at the World Mind Sports Games.
Heather Dhondy, 46, Nevena Senior, 52, Nicola Smith, 63, Sally Brock, 58, Susan Stockdale, 29, and Fiona Brown, 27, defeated the Russians in a gruelling two-day final.
This meant they successfully retained the title won at the 2008 World Mind Sports Games, which incorporate the equivalent of the Olympics for bridge.
England's women returned with tales of grit and determination that would rival anything experienced by Olympic athletes.
They had spent countless hours training, and admitted seeing a sports psychiatrist to reinforce their will to win.
The players worked on their diet and fitness to get through 13 single-set games and four two-day matches in a fortnight - although they were probably not as fit as the Indonesian team which was sent to an Army-style boot camp prior to last year's world championship.
For the first time, however, the women have let slip what may be the secret of world domination at bridge.
We dab ourselves with drops of lavender oil before every match, the Daily mail quoted Dhondy as saying.
It is supposed to calm the nerves and improve concentration - and it sometimes annoys our opponents. They don't seem to like the smell very much, she said.
The effect of the oil was confirmed in June, when the English beat a strong French team on their way to winning the 2012 European Championships.
Although I kept it quiet, I speak French, Smith said.
So I knew that one of their team was saying: 'Something smells of toilet cleaner. It's disgusting.'
I don't know for sure if it put them off, but the moment she started complaining about the smell, I knew we had the upper hand, she said.
The team believes lavender oil aids concentration.
It has to be high-altitude lavender, grown in the mountains - the stuff lower down is cheaper, but not as good, she said.
I am a great believer in alternative medicines, and our lavender oil definitely helps the concentration, Smith added.
Lavender oil is not on any list of banned substances, and its use by bridge players is totally legal. (ANI)