Britain’s Olympic curling head coach David Murdoch says Eve Muirhead’s profile as Team GB’s figurehead is good for the sport and that it is proof that people have been on a “journey with her” since she made her Games debut at Vancouver 2010.
The women’s skip will be heading to a fourth Winter Olympics when she leads her team at Beijing 2022, as she attempts to win a second medal on top of the bronze she claimed at Sochi 2014 - when Murdoch’s men’s team delivered silver.
As it has been at the past few Games, much of the attention is on Muirhead, who made her first appearance at a Games when she led the team at the age of just 19.
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“She's so experienced, she has the Olympic medal and been a world champion (in 2013), she's the current European champion,” Murdoch told Eurosport.
When you've seen someone before, people are drawn to that, they've shared an experience, or shared a moment with them. That helps draw people towards your sport.
“There's something really nice about having someone recognisable there. Eve's been around a long time. She's such a dedicated athlete, people are following her on social media. Everyone wants to be part of that journey with her. She's fought back through some injuries and things and she's going again.
“I think she's in really good form. Whether it's her peak or not, she's had so many good years that it's hard to say. But having known her for a long time, she's super strong. She's confident both with her ability and physically, and I would say she is mentally the toughest I've seen her.”
Muirhead’s team left it late to secure their place in Beijing, missing their chance to qualify at the World Championships last year before winning the European Championships in the lead up before Christmas, before earning their spot at a qualification event in the Netherlands.
Disappointment at the worlds led to a shake-up of the selection system, with athletes instead competing to be a part of the main squad - rather than focusing on one established women’s team. It seemed to bring the best out of the players, but Murdoch says while it was a success, no decision has been made on whether that method will become a permanent fixture.
“I think each year we just need to look at the bigger picture of where we're at, what talent we have,” he said.
“We came off the back of the World Championships for the women and we didn't qualify. I don't think we could have continued on the same journey and hoped for a better outcome, I think we needed to shake things up a little bit.
“We ran the squad system and that was challenging, managing a number of players across different teams and trying to collaborate them into one team and make them work towards being part of one system, one squad.
I think they've hugely benefited from that, not only the athletes that have made the Olympic team, but the other players too. I think they learned a lot of things about the power of a good team dynamic, sharing skills, sharing experiences, it's all just wrapped towards the bigger picture. The team that we've got now is the strongest team, they have a good dynamic, they're shooting really well, playing really well.
“We've got something going in the right direction, and the proof's going to be on whether we can step on the podium in Beijing - we're hopeful they can.”

Winter Olympics profile for British curlers Dodds and Mouat

Perhaps the strongest medal opportunities will come through Bruce Mouat, who won mixed doubles gold at the World Championships with Jen Dodds - who will also be a part of Muirhead’s women’s team. Mouat also steered the men’s rink to silver at the Worlds in Calgary, only losing to Sweden in the final.
As one of his successors as skip, Murdoch is well placed to judge Mouat’s talent - and he says he has been “at the top of the tree” for a little while now.
The skills that he's showing, and his team too, it's been phenomenal over the last couple of years, and they are certainly one of the toughest teams to play on the tour.
"I think it just highlights how much skill he's developed within himself and the belief in himself that he's got his men's team going really well.
“Winning the World Championships with Jennifer in the mixed just showed the full package that he has, and that's just a lot of really good team skills and the ability to play and perform under a lot of pressure.
“Bruce and Jen, they've got a lot of history, curling together from a young age. They've got a great friendship, they like to have a lot of fun and keep it loose. It's important that they keep that going for the Olympic Games.”
Murdoch’s experience of winning an Olympic medal as an athlete himself will be a key foundation to the support Team GB’s curlers will receive in Beijing. He believes nerves “won’t creep in too much” as there is too much to manage elsewhere. But what about the potential of having to watch a game-winning stone to win gold?
“There might be a few more nerves in there for sure - but it's going to be a pleasure watching these guys, that's for sure.”
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