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EVE MUIRHEAD: Stakes couldn’t be higher as Beijing Olympics curling place is on the line

Team Japan will be one of Eve Muirhead's rivals in battle for Olympic place.
Team Japan will be one of Eve Muirhead's rivals in battle for Olympic place.

There hasn’t been long to reflect on what we achieved by winning European gold, that’s for sure.

The stakes are soon going to get even higher.

As I’m writing this week’s column we’re about to fly out to the Netherlands for the Olympic qualification tournament.

It’s strange to get a ‘first time’ at this stage of my career but that will be the case with this one.

Thankfully, I’ve never had to go to through qualifiers so they have kind of passed me by every four years.

What I do know is that this is a properly tough competition in its own right – and that’s even before you take into account the enormous pressure on all of the curlers to get to Beijing.

Some of us have competed at previous Games and medalled but none of us know whether this will be our last shot.

It’s probably best to start with an explanation of the format.

There are no gold, silver and bronze medals but it’s all about getting in the top three.

There are nine nations in a round-robin and the top rink at the end of their eight games will have finished their week’s work and be able to book their flights to China.

Second and third will play each other, with the winner getting the second spot.

And then the loser of that game has another bite at the cherry against the fourth-placed team.


Basically, the mindset will be ‘let’s finish first and go home!’

High standard

Even though the likes of Sweden and Canada have already qualified, the standard will be high.

The silver and bronze medallists from the last Olympics (South Korea and Japan) are here.

Then there’s Germany, who won bronze at the Europeans and gave us a good game in the semi-final.

Italy beat us in Lillehammer, and all the other nations have had some good results recently.

For us, we just want to bring the mindset we had in Norway to this tournament.

The key difference this week compared to last month is we now know that we can produce as a team under big pressure rather than just hope and believe it.

We certainly won’t be fazed by what’s in store.

The mixed doubles has been taking place before the women’s and it’s been reassuring to see that the four teams you would have expected to be at the top all are.

That suggests the ice and stones are as you would hope for an event of this magnitude.

Hopefully I’ll soon be writing a column about having another Olympics to look forward to and doubling up the celebrations that have been put on hold since we won our gold!

It’s a real honour to have been voted on to the British Olympic Association’s Athletes’ Commission.

You can never be sure what’s going to happen when you put yourself up for an election!

And congratulations to Abbie Brown, Andrew Matthews, Adam Gemili, Bryony Page, Lizzy Yarnold on being appointed as well.

It’s very humbling to learn that 600 athletes took the time to vote and being a voice for them will be a real privilege.

It’s something I’m really looking forward to next year.

EVE MUIRHEAD: This European gold goes right to the top of career highlights

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