Battle-hardened Eve Muirhead insists she must remind herself to always enjoy the highs and lows of curling competition ahead of her fourth consecutive Winter Olympics.
Skip Muirhead qualified a spot for Team GB at Beijing 2022 by topping the table at the Olympic Qualifying Event alongside Jennifer Dodds, Vicky Wright, Hailey Duff and alternate Mili Smith, with their selection officially confirmed on Thursday.
The European champions endured a rollercoaster ride in the Netherlands, losing their first two matches, but five consecutive wins and Turkey’s victory over Japan booked their flight to China alongside Bruce Mouat’s men, with Mouat and Dodds also competing in the mixed doubles.
“I think one of the main things is that we have to enjoy the next couple of weeks before we head to Beijing, and enjoy Beijing itself of course,” said Muirhead.
“I think I always need to remind myself that I need to enjoy it. The day that I turn up to the ice and I don’t enjoy it will be the day that I think about whether I want to carry on or not.
“If you don’t enjoy it – it’s no fun. Right now, I’m loving every single minute of it, every time I get on the ice with the girls it’s such a laugh.
“It’s always exciting the day that it’s officially announced. It’s a very, very special feeling for myself and for the rest of the girls and I guess it is going to make Christmas a little nicer!”
Muirhead made her Games bow at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver before becoming the youngest skip ever to win an Olympic medal when she led her side to bronze at Sochi 2014.
She narrowly missed out at PyeongChang 2018, losing to Japan in the bronze medal match, and has had to work hard for an opportunity this time around after missing out on the first chance to qualify by finishing eighth at the World Championships.
That result prompted the use of a squad system before the final five were selected and the new team have gelled in fine style – winning all four competitions they have played together, leaving Muirhead as determined as ever to succeed.
“I am very hungry to medal again and would love to work my way up the podium,” she added.
“The team is in very good shape; we are playing very good curling and I am looking forward to starting but all we can do is our best.
“Every game is daunting – you can’t write anybody off – but we are used to playing top nations in the world, and I’d like to think when they come to face us, they are thinking the same.
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“We beat the current world champions (Switzerland) and Olympic champions (Sweden) at the Europeans, so I think we’ve proven that we are capable of beating these guys and we want to do the same again.
“It does give us a little bit of added pressure, but it also puts pressure on other people who want to beat us – you’ve got to look at it both ways.”
Muirhead is preparing for the sport’s quadrennial period in the mainstream spotlight with ‘chess on ice’ hitting the screens of millions back home.
But the rest of her team are gearing up for their first Games and she is more than happy to pass on some of her vast experience.
“I’m always here for the girls to talk to me if they want to,” explained Muirhead.
“The Olympic Games is an experience that you can always talk about – there’s always a lot of stories that come out of it – good and bad.
“I still get nervous and that’s only natural. The first stone you are throwing you’re going to be but as soon as you get going and get into the environment and feel comfy, you can relax a little bit more.
“I don’t realise when I’m out there how popular it gets back in Britain – curling really takes off and that’s really cool.”