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Curlers have effectively ‘been retired’ after being axed from British Curling programme

Glen Muirhead.
Glen Muirhead.

Two of the Perthshire Olympians cut adrift from British Curling’s elite programme have given their reaction to the controversial decision.

The four members of Team Muirhead – Glen and Thomas Muirhead and Kyle and Cammy Smith – have effectively “been retired” from the sport at the top level.

They all represented Team GB at the 2018 winter Games in PyeongChang but just two years later have been told they aren’t going to be part of the official programme next season.

The quartet split their time between curling and farming but were still able to be competitive against the world’s best rinks.

Skip Glen said on Facebook: “This should hopefully be a major eye opener to all the younger athletes investing their futures with the British curling programme.

“Two years ago we were regarded as the best athletes in the country, representing our country annually and GB at the Olympics.

“I have spent my life so far investing in this sport for both my success and my country’s.

“It seems that making any sort of career decision outwith curling (where it is almost impossible to make a sole living or future from) is held against you.

“To be thrown out the other end like we never existed is one reason why I always knew a career alongside curling was very important.”

Kyle skipped the group at the Olympics and also gave his reaction on Facebook.

He wrote: “…….I would argue I still have the ability to perform at the top level whilst being heavily involved in farming – and to back my argument up would be finishing second in the national championships the last two seasons which up till this season has been the biggest event in the calendar for every Scottish team, as this earned the berth to represented your country at the world championships (I’ll come back to this).

“However, sadly I am not the first or the last decent curler to be cut from the programme because they can’t meet the required training levels in Stirling.

“There are countless fantastic curlers that have been cut and lost to the game in Scotland over the years and the reasons continually repeat themselves: having a family, having a job or even where they live.

“The sport in Scotland – like many other countries – is at a professional level however the wages certainly don’t match the time input of a professional athlete and a one year contract never really had me filled with confidence for building myself a future.

“The decision that really angered me was the one Scottish curling voted and passed a couple months ago – meaning the representative for Scotland at the World Championships will be selected and not earned in championship format against the best Scottish teams (of which we currently have an extremely high standard in our men’s side).

“I can’t personally see this being a good move for curling in Scotland for quite a number of reasons. One of which being I’m only 28 and I have been retired from this sport by the governing body’s decisions.

“I would say I haven’t even reached my peak yet still being in my late 20s and have been to the Olympics but never a World Championships!

“Anyway, felt I had to say something. I have been lucky the support I’ve had over the years but the way things have been handled in recent years I have to say standards are slipping in my opinion.”

COMMENT: Not the right way for British Curling to treat discarded Olympic athletes

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