Eve Muirhead taking heart from ‘tough times’ ahead of fourth Winter Olympics

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  • Tokyo Games
    Tokyo Games
  • Eve Muirhead
    Eve Muirhead
    Scottish curler

Eve Muirhead believes her gruelling route to a fourth Winter Olympics could prove a “blessing in disguise” as she prepares to lead the Great Britain curling team in search of the one major title that still eludes her.

The 31-year-old’s squad fought through this month’s last-chance qualifying event despite losing two of their first three Games, and having faced the very real prospect of failing to send a British women’s team for the first time.

It was a far cry from the dominant form that has seen Muirhead establish herself as one of the most decorated curlers in the game, with Olympic bronze, a world title and three European golds – including an unbeaten run to gold in Lillehammer earlier this year – in the bag.

But Muirhead maintained: “I believe it was a blessing in disguise for us. It gives me a lot of confidence to know that as a team we can battle through the tough times and come out of them at the other end.”

The experienced Muirhead will skip a team comprising four debutants – Jennifer Dodds, who has already been selected for the mixed doubles event alongside Bruce Mouat, Vicky Wright, Hailey Duff and alternate Mili Smith.

And Muirhead admitted her long-held belief that it is her destiny to one day emulate her former coach Rhona Martin and claim her sport’s biggest prize took a hit after an eighth-placed finish at the World Championships in May, which served to ruin her hopes of direct qualification.

Winter Olympics – 2010 Winter Olympic Games Vancouver – Day Ten
Eve Muirhead made her Olympic debut in Vancouver (PA)

She said: “If you look back to the World Championships in Calgary, that would be the one time that I maybe did question myself, the time I realised the Olympics in Beijing were a long way away from me.

“But I never gave up and I think it took a lot of drive and resilience to focus in the summer on making myself better, and all the hard work has paid off.”

Muirhead responded in style, charting an unbeaten course to the European title in Lillehammer before shrugging off a dismal start in the do-or-die decider in Holland, including a shock early loss to tournament lightweights Turkey.

Her team’s subsequent five-match winning streak ultimately secured a fourth Games slot for Muirhead, who made her Olympic debut in Vancouver 2010 and won bronze four years later in Sochi, one year after being crowned her sport’s youngest world title-winning skip.

In Pyeongchang in 2018, Muirhead led her team to the semi-finals but successive defeats to Sweden and Japan denied her the opportunity of claiming a second successive Olympic medal.

“It’s been a very different build-up to these Olympics and I do think this has to be one of my biggest personal achievements,” added Muirhead. “This one is extra special in terms of going to the Games with four girls who have never competed in an Olympic Games before.”

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