Curling-Olympic champion Muirhead brings curtain down on career

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Investitures at Windsor Castle

(Reuters) - Scottish curler Eve Muirhead, who helped Britain seal their only gold medal at this year's Beijing Winter Olympics, announced her retirement from the sport on Thursday and said she wanted to explore more opportunities.

The 32-year-old led Britain to victory over Japan in the women's curling final in Beijing in February, securing her nation's only gold medal at this year's Games.

She calls time on her career as the current European and world champion.

"After 15 years of international curling and 21 international titles I have made the hardest decision of my life to hang up my curling shoes and retire," Muirhead said in a post on Twitter.

Throughout my career and like most athletes, I have experienced both the highest of the highs (becoming an Olympic champion) and the lowest of lows and at times the future seemed very distant. It's been an emotional journey but a journey I am very proud of."

Muirhead, who also became the youngest skip to win an Olympic medal with a bronze medal in Sochi 2014, did not reveal her future plans and told her fans to "watch this space".

"The impact that Eve has had on curling in Scotland is unparalleled," SportScotland chief executive Stewart Harris said in a statement.

"Eve's 11 gold medals in Olympic Games, World Championships and European Championships are a true testament to her dedication to curling over these years."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)