Bruce Mouat was, as they say in his native Scotland, but a ‘wee thing' when he first met Jen Dodds at the Gogar Park Curling Club in the early 2000s.
He was about eight, which would have made her 11 when they first laid eyes on each other at the Edinburgh rink.
Nearly two decades later the pair are back in Scotland, hoping home ice advantage will help them earn a coveted Olympic quota place at the World Mixed Doubles Championships in Aberdeen this week.
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"[Bruce] probably won't like me saying this, but [when we met] he was the same height as a curling brush,"recalled Dodds, 29.
"I probably started about three years before him, at a similar time to his brother. I think he was itching to go because he was just having to sit at the side and watch his brother play.
"You could tell straight away, he was like, ‘I want to play! I want to play!'"
Mouat, 26, walked away with a silver medal at last month's men's World Championships in Canada, clinching GB an Olympic spot in the process. The skipper then rounded off his excellent stint in Calgary's spectator-free bubble with two Grand Slam titles in the following weeks.
Dodds, on the other hand, is returning from Calgary empty-handed after her Eve Muirhead-led team failed to finish in the top six places at the women's worlds and qualify a Beijing rink. They now need to wait until December for another chance—just two months before the Games.
Mouat knows what it feels like to miss out. He and Gina Aitken didn't qualify for PyeongChang in 2018, the year mixed doubles—a faster, shorter event—made its Olympic debut.
So both teammates, he explained, have something to prove.
Mouat said: "It would mean a lot to earn an Olympic spot. Myself and Gina were pretty close for 2018. We missed out by one place, so I feel I have unfinished business.
"I'm really looking forward to trying to get that top-seven finish to earn GB the right to compete.
"If we are the team to be selected, I'll be more than glad to represent GB twice at an Olympics, which not a lot of people can say they've done."
The reigning Scottish champions have much in common. They both love a good cup of coffee and are "fiercely"competitive, said Mouat, no matter what they're doing, from playing cards to Mario Kart.
And by this point, they're both very used to living in a Covid bubble. Dodds spent five straight weeks in her Calgary hotel before coming home to Scotland, where she had just three days before entering yet another bubble—this time in Aberdeen.
"I've got my coffee machine this time,"she said. "Just little things like that make it a wee bit more homely."
There are big differences, too. This will be Mouat's fifth mixed doubles worlds, but Dodds' first.
"She's a bit more analytical than me,"Mouat explains, "I just like to play and not really think about it! I like to explain things to her, and she loves to have all that information.
"We've been working really hard to try and make sure our dynamic is really strong, which is part of the reason we've won quite a few of these domestic events."
Despite their differences, the pair are each other's number one fans—literally.
Dodds said: "We had the process of who we wanted to play with and stuff like that.
"We went to British Curling with our top three picks, being like, great, these are the people we want to play with.
"And Bruce was my number one. So, fortunately, we got both of our first choices.
"It's just really exciting to play. And it's something fresh for us as well.
"You curl the men's and ladies' for over 20 years, so it's freshened up a wee bit."
And if they manage to clinch one of those Beijing places?
"That would mean so much,"Dodds replied. "I remember back in 2002, when Rhona [Martin] won her gold medal, that was the first time I really sat and watched curling at the Olympics.
"That's my earliest memory. So if I could get there, that would be amazing. That would be such an honour."
Speaking of early memories, Dodds' teammate can see over the broom now—and, like her, he's eyeing China.
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