Eve leading from the front as Muirhead family eye Olympic success
Curling

Eve leading from the front as Muirhead family eye Olympic success

08 February 2018 / 08:34
Gordon Muirhead must shudder when he listens to his daughter's daily training schedule.

Hours sweating in the gym, nutritionists on speed dial and psychologists to ensure mental sharpness dovetails with physical prowess. And that’s all before a stone has been thrown, swept or hurried.

“When Dad played it was a fag and a cup of coffee and then out on the ice,” jokes the British women’s curling skip, still only 27 and competing at her third Games. “But I think he wishes he knew what we do now.”

Muirhead, of course, was no slouch, winning the world and European title and a string of major medals before he became better known as Eve’s Dad.

His sons, Thomas and Glen, are here in PyeongChang, too, in Kyle Smith’s youthful and hopeful men’s rink.
However, it’s Eve’s women’s team – Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray and alternate Kelly Schafer –who arrive in South Korea with the profile and expectation following their bronze medal four years ago in Sochi.

For the casual fan, curling is still defined by Rhona Martin’s ‘stone of destiny’ in 2002, which ended Great Britain’s 78-year wait for an Olympic gold.

She and team-mates Debbie Knox, Janice Rankin and Fiona MacDonald would also admire Muirhead’s commitment to the cause – they were all working mums, enjoying their amateur sport when they became shock Olympic champions.

“It’s a hard life being a full-time athlete. A lot of people don’t see the blood, sweat and tears every day and what you’re putting your body through,” said Muirhead.

“When I made my Olympic debut in Vancouver, it was an eye-opener. I realised that I wasn’t working or training hard enough. I knew to make the podium I had to be more dedicated.

“I stepped everything up from that moment. My whole life revolves around my sport, everything else takes a back seat. That might make me a bit boring, but I’m just doing everything I can to get that gold medal here.”

Muirhead’s brothers still combine their training with daily duties on the family farm, but you won’t catch their sister setting her alarm to help with lambing.
TeamMuirheadkittingout

“They like having other stuff to occupy themselves, take their minds off curling,” she adds.

“The first thing on my mind is food, then the gym, then the ice and then sleep. I don’t need any distractions, I need that focus.”

Muirhead’s rink will be coached in PyeongChang by four-time world champion Glenn Howard, whose own hopes of making the Canadian men’s team ended late last year with a defeat at their highly-competitive pre-trials.

Howard, 55, has spent decades at the top of his sport but has never appeared on its biggest stage and his influence has been immediate, with Muirhead skipping her team to their first European title in six years.

She describes him as her “idol” and it’s a mutual fan club, Howard claiming he’s found a new respect for the sport since the partnership began.

“It was a massive boost being European champions. It proves this year that we can compete against the best teams in the world,” added Muirhead.

“After Sochi there was never any doubt that I wanted to be here. Once you’ve had that taste of medal success, you’ve got the bug and you want to go back.


Muirhead’s rink will be coached in PyeongChang by four-time world champion Glenn Howard, whose own hopes of making the Canadian men’s team ended late last year with a defeat at their highly-competitive pre-trials.

Howard, 55, has spent decades at the top of his sport but has never appeared on its biggest stage and his influence has been immediate, with Muirhead skipping her team to their first European title in six years.

She describes him as her “idol” and it’s a mutual fan club, Howard claiming he’s found a new respect for the sport since the partnership began. “It was a massive boost being European champions.

It proves this year that we can compete against the best teams in the world,” added Muirhead.

“After Sochi there was never any doubt that I wanted to be here. Once you’ve had that taste of medal success, you’ve got the bug and you want to go back.

Sportsbeat 2018