EVE Muirhead will lead her Scotland team into next week’s World Curling Championships in Latvia eager to write another chapter in an increasingly impressive family sporting dynasty.
The 22-year-old from Blair Atholl in Perthshire set her alarm for five o’clock on Saturday morning to watch her younger brother Thomas help steer his nation to the world junior title in Sochi.
Thomas still has some way to go to match his big sister, who won four world junior crowns, while Eve herself needs a senior world title in order to emulate her father Gordon, who won world gold in 1999.
For Muirhead, who was also until recently a scratch golfer and now plays off a handicap of two, the competitive instinct has always been something that begins at home.
Speaking ahead of the team’s final training session at the Dewars Centre in Perth, Muirhead said: “There are always bragging rights and I’m sure my brother doesn’t like his sister doing better than him.
“We’ve a very competitive family and with me having won four world junior titles he was never going to let the chance pass without winning himself one. My dad went to the Olympics when it was a demonstration sport and he got a couple of world and European medals.
“I would say around 90 per cent of high-level curlers come from that same kind of family background.”
Muirhead endured a tough Olympic debut in Vancouver where her team failed to reach the semi-final stage, and returned home to set up a younger team which is now in pole position to head to the Sochi Games next year. A top-eight finish in Latvia ought to be enough for Muirhead to qualify a Great Britain team for the Games, although the personnel would be confirmed at a later date via an individual selection process.
For an athlete as driven and immediately successful as Muirhead, her first Olympic experience in Vancouver was a bittersweet one from which she is intent on learning some tough lessons.
“Vancouver was one of the best things that has happened to me,” added Muirhead.
“I wanted to come away with a medal but when I look back now I know I didn’t train or practise hard enough. At the time I wasn’t to know that, but now I’ve stepped up in all those areas.
“Hopefully, looking towards future Olympic Games I know what to expect.
“I won’t go out and be wowed by it, and I will be prepared for the pressures.
“It is something that comes around every four years and you have got to go out and do everything right in one week. We just didn’t perform well enough and it is a case of learning from it and getting it right next time.”
Muirhead’s team is certainly not short of role medals as they head for Latvia under the guidance of Rhona Martin who famously claimed Olympic curling gold for Great Britain in 2002 with her final stone.
Martin, who was in Vancouver working for the BBC, completed a three-year UK Sport elite coaching programme and was subsequently appointed head coach for the Scotland women’s team.
“Rhona has been there and done it at the highest level you can get in sport, and it helps us hugely knowing Rhona is there if we need to go and speak to her and learn from her experience,” Muirhead added.