CURLER Tom Brewster revealed a bitter-sweet feeling of finally reaching a Winter Olympic Games with Team GB, only to have it confirmed he may not get any time on the ice.
Men’s head coach Soren Gran announced yesterday’s press conference in Sochi that he will not be alternating his five-man team for the competition, instead sticking with skip David Murdoch, Scott Andrews, Greg Drummond and Michael Goodfellow.
Brewster, 39, who skipped Scotland to World Championship silver in 2011 and 2012 – in rinks that included Drummond, Andrews and Goodfellow – will be the alternate.
The Aberdonian admitted he has had time to reconcile himself with his predicament, but his disappointment remained clear. “But I suppose it is a bit bitter-sweet, being the alternate,” he said. “I might not play at all for the next two weeks. We were using the five men, we were rotating but weren’t getting on very well at the start of the season.
“We were playing some good curling but we weren’t getting the results, we weren’t consistent enough and we weren’t comfortable in all our different positions. We then played set teams in different events and the coach feels this is the way it is [going to be], and that is his decision. I have pretty much known for a few months that this was going to happen, even though we weren’t told until a month ago.
“I got the feeling quite early on, so I have had a while to think about it. But I am here to gain as much knowledge as I can because I want to be playing at the next one. I am not ready to hang my boots up yet. I am fit, raring to go and waiting hopefully to get some ice time at some point.
“At the end of the day I am a sounding board. I have got an older head on my shoulders.
“I know Dave pretty well and even though I have not been at an Olympics, I know the pressures he is going to be under.
“I know what it feels like to be a skip and be out there, and it is not like being in any other position – it is quite demanding.
“Hopefully I can bring a lot, help organise and help in whatever way.”
Gran admitted that Brewster has had a “hard time” with a decision he believed had to be taken for the good of the team.
The former Sweden international said: “Sport is tough, we know that. And, of course, I’m sentimental and have emotions as well. It’s never easy to ask someone to step down. We had discussions about it and all five want to go to the Olympics and want to play.
“But only four can be on the ice this time and right now we have decided it’s better to let four guys play and give them a full chance to be together out there, and that’s the decision all five players went with.
“I fully understand [Brewster is] disappointed and we’re not going to hide that and he should be, because he’s not playing.
“If he’s not, then he maybe shouldn’t even be here. But we talked about it and he’s definitely showing that he’s fully supporting us in this.
“He wants to come out and play and it’s good to know he is ready for that. He can be a part of this Olympic Games and I think it would be stupid to throw that away and that’s what I told him, to go there enjoy and have a great time. And, you never know, if we need him to play he has to be ready.”
Brewster, however, knows his only way back into the team will come if Murdoch’s men perform badly and there is precedent. In the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Warwick Smith replaced Hammy McMillan as skip when the latter dropped out from the team after poor form in the first three matches.
However, he is hoping Team GB do medal in Sochi and insists that if they do, then he will have more than played his part. The curling round-robin for both men and women gets under way on Monday
“By the time it does happen [he plays] we would probably be out,” Brewster said. In some ways that is the disappointing thing, but hopefully we don’t lose.
“To take a medal home would be great. Let’s be honest as well, they wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t part of the team initially.
“We have all come on that journey and I have been a big part of that. So I feel quite proud of that, proud that I skipped to two World silver medals and been involved in everything.
“If we do finally stand on the podium, I will have been a large part of that, so I have to take things like that out of this.”