EVE Muirhead, Britain’s chief gold medal hope for next year’s Winter Olympics, claims she has put her failure at the 2010 Games to such good use that it may have been the “best thing that happened to me”.
Aged 19, Muirhead and her rink suffered five consecutive group defeats in Vancouver as they failed to live up to the legacy of 2002 champion Rhona Martin.
Yesterday, in a blog for teamgb.com to mark 100 days until the 2014 Games open in Sochi, Russia, Perth woman Muirhead said she was using Jessica Ennis-Hill as a source of inspiration to deal with the pressure of going into an Olympics as one of the favourites.
As current world champion, Muirhead knows there is a weight of expectation on her shoulders but she claims to be embracing it – unlike in 2010. “I know there is pressure on us because we are going into the Olympics as world champions but if you look at all the British athletes who performed at London 2012 it was exactly the same for them,” she wrote.
“Jessica Ennis-Hill is a real role model for me and I was lucky enough to be in the Olympic Stadium to watch her compete last summer. She just learned to deal with the pressure and almost take strength and confidence from it, which was a really great lesson to learn. I now kind of enjoy the attention, I also use it as a positive.
“In many ways that was the mistake of my first Olympics in Vancouver, I didn’t deal with expectation that well, although in the long-term it might be the best thing that happened to me.
“You’ve got to learn to deal with these things and take time to soak it up, then switch it off when you need to. Four years ago when I made my Olympic debut I was only 19. I don’t think anything can prepare you for how different the Olympics are to the normal curling circuit.
“It is the total opposite now. I was the young one in the team in Vancouver, and I guess I’m now the captain who’s leading the team, which makes it extra special. And I’m also super, super happy for the other three girls – Claire Hamilton, Anna Sloan and Vicki Adams – because they haven’t been to the Olympics before.”
Muirhead admitted it would be hard to live up to the “dream season” they enjoyed in 2012/2013, but said she was confident that her rink-mates shared her commitment to improvement.
“Obviously being world champions made us fairly confident of selection but it was a massive relief when it was all finally confirmed by the British Olympic Association,” she said.
“An Olympic Games is huge. It’s something people dream of getting to. As a team we had one of the best seasons ever and we were 90 per cent sure that we were going to be selected. So it was always in our minds and on our radar, but we were never 100 per cent sure.
“Last season was a dream season in many ways. We were the first European team to win a Grand Slam event, then won the worlds and the Players’ Championship, which is a pretty rare double. All the little things came together from the previous year.”