The 25-year-old from Lockerbie joined skip Eve Muirhead’s team as lead in 2011 and, along with Vicki Adams and Anna Sloan, won European gold in their first tournament. They also won gold for Scotland at the 2013 world championships in Riga, Latvia, and earlier this year took bronze for Great Britain at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Hamilton said: “I’m hugely proud that, as a curler, I realised my ambition of being World Champion and an Olympic medallist. Before the new Olympic cycle starts I feel that it is the right time for me to move on and explore some other ideas.”
The Muirhead-led rink went into the Olympic tournament as world champions and one of the favourites for the title but they ran into a Jennifer Jones-led Canadian team in imperious form, losing to them in the semi-finals. However, the Scots bounced back from that disappointment to defeat Switzerland in the bronze play-off and ensure they left Russia with a prized Olympic medal for Team GB.
“The Olympics inspired a real passion in me for the world of sport and I want to investigate what other options are out there,” continued Hamilton.
“I have loved being part of Team Muirhead and would like to thank the girls for the fantastic opportunities and experiences that being part of the team has brought me. I’m excited about what the future might hold and will take this summer to investigate what I might do.”
Muirhead, Sloan and Adams have confirmed they are all committed to the next Olympic cycle and are looking forward to finding a new team member before the season starts again in September.
Skip Muirhead said: “Claire has been a world-class lead for us and we will be sad to see her go. We will take some time before deciding on a replacement but we are excited about the journey to 2018.
“This season has been an amazing one, and taking home an Olympic medal was a dream come true for all four of us. Anna, Vicki and myself would like to thank Claire for the huge part she has had to play in Team Muirhead in the last four years and we also are looking forward to seeing what we can do as a team going forward.”
Before teaming up with Muirhead, Hamilton was alternate in the Sloan-skipped rink that won a first-ever world student gold for Great Britain at the 2011 Winter Universiade in Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club has announced the signing of a sponsorship deal with the dark rum, O.V.D. for the Scottish Curling Senior Championships.
The relationship, which will start in 2015, will see O.V.D. become main sponsor of the Scottish Curling Seniors, one of the principal Championships run by the RCCC, the governing body for the sport in Scotland. Open to curlers aged over 50, the winning men’s and women’s teams in the Scottish Curling Senior Championships earn the right to represent their country at the World Senior Championships where, at this year’s event in Dumfries, Scotland’s Senior Women were crowned World Champions – Christine Cannon’s Scottish women beat Canada 6-5 to claim the gold medal at a packed Dumfries Ice Bowl on Wednesday.
Stuart McLean, Marketing Officer for the RCCC said: “This is great news for Scottish curling at a time when we are celebrating the achievements of our senior women and the success of the British teams that won medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games this year.”