Eve Muirhead: '˜My life is my sport.Everything is for gold'

Gordon Muirhead must shudder when he listens to his daughter's daily training schedule. Hours sweating in the gym, nutritionists on speed dial and psychologists to ensure mental sharpness dovetails with physical prowess. And that's all before a stone has been thrown, swept or hurried.

Eve Muirhead in action during the bronze medal match between Switzerland and Great Britain at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

“When Dad played it was a fag and a cup of coffee and then out on the ice,” jokes the British women’s curling skip, still only 27 and competing at her third Games. “But I think he wishes he knew what we do 
now.”

Muirhead, of course, was no slouch, winning the world and European title and a string of major medals before he became better known as Eve’s 
Dad.

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His sons, Thomas and Glen, are here in PyeongChang, too, in Kyle Smith’s youthful and hopeful men’s rink.

However, it’s Eve’s women’s team – Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray and alternate Kelly Schafer –who arrive in South Korea with the profile and expectation following their bronze medal four years ago in Sochi.

For the casual fan, curling is still defined by Rhona Martin’s ‘stone of destiny’ in 2002, which ended Great Britain’s 78-year wait for an Olympic gold.

She and team-mates Debbie Knox, Janice Rankin and Fiona MacDonald would also admire Muirhead’s commitment to the cause – they were all working mums, enjoying their amateur sport when they became shock Olympic champions.

“It’s a hard life being a full-time athlete. A lot of people don’t see the blood, sweat and tears every day and what you’re putting your body through,” said Muirhead.

“When I made my Olympic debut in Vancouver, it was an eye-opener. I realised that I wasn’t working or training hard enough. I knew to make the podium I had to be more dedicated.

“I stepped everything up from that moment. My whole life revolves around my sport, everything else takes a back seat. That might make me a bit boring, but I’m just doing 
everything I can to get that gold medal here.”

Muirhead’s brothers still combine their training with daily duties on the family farm, but you won’t catch their sister setting her alarm to help with lambing.

“They like having other stuff to occupy themselves, take their minds off curling,” she adds. “The first thing on my mind is food, then the gym, then the ice and then sleep. I don’t need any distractions, I need that focus.”

Muirhead’s rink will be coached in PyeongChang by four-time world champion Glenn Howard, whose own hopes of making the Canadian men’s team ended late last year with a defeat at their highly-competitive pre-trials.

Howard, 55, has spent decades at the top of his sport but has never appeared on its biggest stage and his influence has been immediate, with Muirhead skipping her team to their first European title in six years.

She describes him as her “idol” and it’s a mutual fan club, Howard claiming he’s found a new respect for the sport since the partnership began.

“It was a massive boost being European champions. It proves this year that we can compete against the 
best teams in the world,” added 
Muirhead.

“After Sochi there was never any doubt that I wanted to be here. Once you’ve had that taste of medal success, you’ve got the bug and you want to go back.

“I haven’t thought that much beyond these Games. It is tough to carry on going for four years but I can’t see myself giving up.

“Four years ago told me a lot about myself. When we lost in the semi-finals, it was the toughest defeat of my career but we had a chance to put it right within 20 hours.

“Rhona actually really put it into perspective for me, but I didn’t sleep much that night. The courage and professionalism we showed to win the bronze medal, which is probably the hardest match you’ll play, will stand us in good stead here.”

Thomas watched his sister’s bronze medal match on his phone during a university lecture, while Glen was busy selling sheep at market, but their big sister remains their greatest influence and the family affair is making these Games extra special.

“I’d like to think they look up to me. I’ve definitely got the bragging rights at the moment,” jokes Muirhead.

“Being their sister they don’t actually ask for a lot of advice, but I’d tell them to enjoy the opening ceremony, the village, the whole buzz, but, when it comes to competition, get your head down.

“They’ve earned their place here.They need to focus on the men’s competition. I’ll be supporting them every single game and watching them on TV as much as I can, but my number one priority is my own game.”

l Watch Eve Muirhead’s first match against Russia on Eurosport Player on 14 February. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games on Eurosport and Eurosport Player. Go to www.Eurosport.co.uk