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Eve Muirhead: 10 special pictures that tell inside story of Perthshire curler’s life and career

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Eve Muirhead has announced her retirement – and she brings down the curling curtain as one of the most successful Scottish athletes of all time.

Her curling CV includes an Olympic bronze medal, a World gold, silver and bronze, two European golds, five silvers and two bronzes, eight Scottish titles, four Scottish Junior golds, four World Junior golds and six Grand Slam crowns.

And in February, the Perthshire star and curling team – Forfar’s Hailey Duff, Vicky Wright and Jen Dodds – clinched gold at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

They produced a near faultless display in the women’s final to beat Japan 10-3.

In April 2020, as she turned 30, Courier Sport looked back with Eve at 10 photographs that help tell the story of her glittering career.

Eve on the family farm near Kinross.

1 – Life on the farm

I’m thinking I must have been about four in this photo. One of our farm dogs, Lizzie, had pups but I don’t think we kept that one.

That picture was taken at our farm near Kinross before we moved to Blair Atholl a year or two later. I absolutely loved helping my dad out on the farm – I still do. Lambing time is brilliant.

Farming has definitely shaped the person I am. Everything has stemmed from there.

When I made my first move to Stirling I kept going home every weekend!

The image of curling is changing but the link between the sport and farming down the years is obvious. A lot of farmers curl. It’s a very social sport and you meet a lot of people through it – work hard through the day, curl at night and have a drink with your opponents afterwards.

In our family it goes back to my dad’s dad and my dad’s uncle. My grandad was in the Grand Match. There’s no chance of one of them happening again. There’s too much health and safety these days!

Working on a farm definitely gives you core strength.

The Muirhead family after dad, Gordon, returned home with a world silver medal for his new-born son.

2 – A world silver and a new member of the family

Dad has just come back home after winning silver at the Worlds. He was the skip that year – 1995. He won a world gold but only as a fifth.

Thomas was born while he was out in Canada. That’s why he’s got the middle name Brandon!

Me and Glen were always wanting to wear that medal around the house.

My dad was definitely the biggest influence on my career. He got me into the sport and ended up coaching me as a junior.

Me and dad have very similar technique. Glen and Thomas are different. They have what’s called a Manitoba Tuck. Basically, that means they’re sliding on their toe. That’s come from watching videos of games years ago. It’s a very Canadian style – you would never see anybody slide like that say from Japan or China.

For as long as I’m curling, dad will always be there for advice.

Eve starts out at the Atholl Rink in Pitlochry.

3 – Starting at the Atholl Rink in Pitlochry

I must have been about 10 for this photo. We moved up to Blair Atholl when I was in primary two.

The rink closed in 2008 but when I was getting into the sport I was lucky to have it at our back door. Any chance I got, I was there. If dad was playing a club game I’d watch him then I’d be straight on the ice. Then, when I was a bit older, I’d be practicing every day. I’d throw hundreds of stones. It’s no wonder I’ve got a hip that isn’t functioning too well!

I got into the Perth and Kinross squad the year after and from there it was the national academy.

I might have had the odd game by then for Dunkeld Curling Club but my dad wouldn’t let me play until I could get a stone to the far end.

I’ve nailed my delivery in that pic! You always look at the target. If you look at the angle of my left foot, that’s perfect. These days I can’t get close to that. It’s dead straight or, if anything, slightly turned in. I was more text book then than I am after my hip operation! That position is better for the mechanics of the shot.

Mum and dad refused to pay hundreds of pounds for curling shoes that I’d grow out of. I can remember super-gluing a milk carton on to the bottom of a pair of trainers! An old pair of my granny’s were my first real curling shoes. I’ve got the full Adidas three-stripe tracksuit on here, though, so I’m ready for the Olympics!

Eve busking outside Jenners in Edinburgh.

4 – Piping at Jenners

Katy Scott is drumming beside me. We’d have been 14, I think. We’re still friends now and she still plays in a band. Back then we used to go busking. That was outside Jenners in Edinburgh but our usual spot was by the Blair Atholl chip van. I think we made more money at Jenners!

I started with the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band and then competed in five or six World Championships with the Pitlochry and Blair Atholl Pipe Band and I won a few solo competitions.

Canadians love the pipes. I’ve piped myself out at the Continental Cup once!

I actually had the pipes out to do a feature for the Olympic Channel and my neighbours got me to play on Thursday nights for Clap for Carers during lockdown!

Eve competing in the Scottish Girls under-16 championship at Auchterarder.

5 – No golfing regrets

I was in the final group of the Under-16 Scottish Girls at Auchterarder when this pic was taken. I was actually playing with my friend Kelsey MacDonald, who has gone on to become a professional, that day.

My biggest golf achievement was probably getting to the last 16 in the British Girls and I played for Scottish Schools against England. I’ve been as low as one handicap – in the days before curling was a full-time job when I could play all summer.

A lot has been written about me turning down scholarships in America but I definitely don’t regret it.

I’ve never stood on a putting green and practiced in my life. Who knows how far I would have gone if I had totally dedicated myself to it but you look at how few make it to the top in professional golf and leaving home, my family and curling behind wasn’t for me.

I still love playing and am lucky to get the chance to go to some great golf courses for pro-ams. And at Turnberry, it was nice to see I can hit the ball further than Brooke Henderson, who has won a major!

Eve wins her first World Junior gold in Minnesota.

6 – Top of the world

That was me in a place called Eveleth in Minnesota back in 2007, after winning my first of four World Junior golds. I had to get a letter written to let me get out of school and Thomas must have been too young to be left at home!

Even to win the Scottish Juniors back then was very hard. It was much more competitive than it is now.

Then when you win the World Juniors you start to think that you must be pretty good. That was a big moment and put my name out there.

The championship is for under-21s and I was still 16 so it was a big deal at the time. I beat Stacey Deveraux in the final, who was 20 I think.

I actually played third back then. Sarah Reid, who ended up being part of my team a few years later, skipped. Dad always said not to worry about skipping at that stage. It was about getting myself into a good team and learning. The following year I skipped.

The last of my junior golds was won at Perth and having four is still a record, which I’m really proud of.

Things didn’t go as planned in Vancouver in 2010.

7 – First Winter Olympics at 19

I was still a junior when I was selected to skip at the Vancouver Games in 2010, so there was a lot of publicity about it. It was the first time the ‘Ice Queen’ got mentioned!

I don’t think I’d say it was too early for me. The structure didn’t help us. We were thrown together as a team and didn’t have long enough to gel.

We had the ability and were definitely better than the seventh place we got. We showed that we were capable of doing well by winning silver at the Worlds a few months later.

That picture sums up my 2010 Olympics pretty well!

The week was such a struggle. We didn’t fall out but it was difficult skipping team-mates who were a lot older than me. Things just didn’t come together.

I learned so much, though. That experience definitely helped me win a medal four years later.

At Edinburgh Airport having brought a World gold back to Scotland.

8 – World gold

I’d definitely say that 2013/14 was the peak season of my career so far.

We were ranked number one in the world, won a couple of grand slams, the Europeans and an Olympic bronze over those two years.

And winning the Worlds is something every curler dreams of doing.

I look absolutely shattered in that pic. Myself and Anna Sloan almost missed our flight back from Latvia!

It’s difficult to keep fresh and improving as a group. People decide to do different things. It takes a lot of commitment to be on the tour these days.

Of the past teams I’ve been a part of, that was the strongest one.

Tears of relief at winning Olympic bronze.

9 – Bronze in Sochi

You won’t often see me crying on the ice – win or lose! But those are tears of relief.

It was such a battle that week. It’s very drawn out at an Olympics and with one-game days it’s hard to get on a roll.

We played one of our best games against Jennifer Jones of Canada in the semi-finals but just lost, which was really hard to take. Everybody was talking about that match as the final in all but name.

There’s no time to re-group when you lose because the next morning you’re playing for a medal.

It came down to me making the last shot against Switzerland for bronze.

We definitely deserved our medal and because Britain get so few in Winter Games, winning one changes your life in terms of people knowing you.

Eve with brothers Thomas and Glen on the day they were selected for Team GB.

10 – The Muirheads at PyeongChang

That was the day myself, Glen and Thomas were selected for PyeongChang.

The photocall was at the Highland Show at Ingliston. It kind of sums everything up – family, farming and curling.

None of us got a medal but nothing can take away from the fact that three siblings were at an Olympics. That won’t happen very often.

I was really happy Glen and Thomas got the chance to experience a Games. They were a very creditable fifth and were close to getting a medal.

Having hit the podium already, for us, we were going for gold. It was harder to pick ourselves up for the bronze medal game than it had been four years earlier.

I had a shot to get the medal and that’s the life of a skip. If you get it, you take the glory and if you miss it, you take the flak. I would make it nine times out of 10.

The last two times we’ve played the eventual winners in the semis and going to a fourth Games, I’ll want to make sure we finish high up the table after the round-robin.

I’ve got a lot left in front of me hopefully and winning Olympic gold is definitely the biggest goal.

I’m a better all-round player than 10 years ago. Maturing definitely compensates for the hip getting worse!