Eve Muirhead to make World Championship return after four-year gap

Four years after her last World Championship appearance, Eve Muirhead has been selected to lead Scotland into the 2021 edition.

Team Muirhead, from left: David Murdoch (coach), Lauren Gray, Sophie Sinclair, Eve Muirhead, Jenn Dodds, Vicky Wright and Kristian Lindstrom (coach). Picture: Graeme Hart

Muirhead and team-mates Vicky Wright, Jen Dodds and Lauren Gray, were told last week that they had been provisionally selected in anticipation of the possibility of a Women’s World Championships taking place.

The former world champion was consequently delighted when it was announced that the World Curling Federation had accepted Curling Canada’s application to add the competition to a number of events taking place over a three-month period under strict bubble conditions in Calgary.

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The LGT World Women’s Curling Championships, presented by BKT Tires, will now be held at the WinSport Arena at Canada Olympic Park from April 30 to May 9 and, like the men’s event, will double as an Olympic qualifying competition, with the top six teams guaranteeing themselves a place in Beijing next year.

“It’s really exciting,” said Muirhead. “The thought of being out there in Calgary in a bubble can be a little bit daunting I guess, knowing you’re going nowhere apart from your hotel room, the hire car and the arena, but if someone said to me any time over the past few months that I had the chance to do this I’d had have jumped at the opportunity.

“We’re just so grateful that we get the chance to compete. So many times during the year there have been dark moments and we never knew what was going to happen, so for Curling Canada and the World Curling Federation to be able to put this together has been fantastic and very good for the curling world.”

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The gap since her last appearance at this event is the longest since Muirhead first reached senior level as a teenager and this has also been the longest period in the 30-year-old’s career without competing internationally.

As a result of the lockdowns caused by the Covid pandemic her team have been unable to travel to a tournament since they came home from Canada last year when the World Championships were cancelled on the eve of the event.

“Having won eight Scottish titles but not been to a Worlds for four years sounds a bit strange,” she said.

“For me this is why I curl, to play in World Championships and do well on that international stage. So, to get a chance in this very different year to manage to compete at international level with Scotland on your back is something to be very grateful for.”

The gap caused by the pandemic has given Muirhead extra time to ensure that she has fully recovered from the major hip surgery she underwent after the Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018.

“My hip’s in really good shape,” she reported. “I’ve worked really hard to get it into the shape it’s in, so I need to not slack on that and keep up the good work because the season’s only really beginning which is quite scary.

“I do feel my body is in good shape and my physical well-being is in good stead, so I’m looking forward to flying the flag for Scotland. I definitely feel I’m stronger than I was. I don’t think I could be in better shape at this time.”

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