Against the odds, very few seasoned observers gave her a chance on arrival in Beijing, but Muirhead and her rink, Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds and Hailey Duff produced a flawless final performance to claim the first British gold medal, just eight hours before the closing ceremony.
There was no 'Stone of Destiny', the fabled rock that Rhona Martin delivered in Salt Lake City to win Team GB's last curling gold 20 years ago, instead Muirhead's tactics were judged to perfection, her team's accuracy unerring in a one-sided win over Japan 10-3 with an end to spare.
"This is a moment I dreamed of as a young child," said Muirhead, 31, who had lost in two Olympic semi-finals but won bronze in 2014. "To stand on the podium and get that gold medal round your neck is a moment I’ll never forget. It was emotional but I managed to hold it in until the flag was getting raised.
"I've been close many times but I just haven't been over the line and this was the one gold medal missing from the collection.
"It's a dream come true. For the rest of the girls as well, it's been a journey to get here to say the least. To come out on top and show our fight, it showed how strong we are."
Muirhead admitted she nearly quit after an eighth-place finish at the World Championships last year, which meant she needed to come through a stressful qualifying competition.
She won the European title before Covid hit her squad, several members being forced into quarantine with just days before their last chance to make the plane to Beijing.
She won five and lost four in the round robin stages, advancing to the knockouts by just ten centimetres via a complicated formula known as the draw shot challenge.
"Throughout this we've been up against adversity but it's an Olympic Games, it's not meant to be easy," added Muirhead.
"I had a very tough summer after the World Championships and then the pandemic and lockdown, I really wanted to throw the shoes in the cupboard for good.
"I guess all good things eventually happen but this is a very different feeling to four years ago. Coming fourth in PyeongChang and losing that bronze medal match took a long time to get over. I still think about the shot every day, hopefully it'll be out my mind now.
"It's been a rollercoaster journey, there have been ups and downs and then we had all the issues with Covid.
"I had such great support and these girls inspired me to come back out fighting, I knew what we could achieve if we brought our A-game."
Curling saved Team GB's blushes, who could have been looking at their first Games without a medal since 1992, until Muirhead’s team gold followed Bruce Mouat’s mens’ silver.
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