The skip of Britain's curling team: All about Eve

Bagpiper, ace golfer and now – at just 19 – the skip of Britain's curling team. Eve Muirhead tells Simon Turnbull why she has gold in her sights

For a brief moment, Eve Muirhead struggles to come up with an answer when asked if she is following in the footsteps of any famous sporting products of her old school, Morrison's Academy in Crieff. "Now who was there?" the Perthshire teenager ponders. "There have been some famous people. Let me think... What's-his-name McGregor."

Ewan McGregor is not exactly known for his sporting prowess but he is a former pupil of Morrison's. He is also, of course, a man of many parts: Renton in Trainspotting, the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Nick Leeson in Rogue Trader. Muirhead herself happens to be a young woman of many parts. As a bagpiper, she has played in four world championships (enter "Eve Muirhead bagpipes" in Google and on the first page of searches is a television clip of her performing "Skylark's Ascension"). She happens to be an accomplished golfer, too – winner of the Highland Open, a member of the Perth and Kinross regional team, and a last-16 performer in the British girls' championship.

That is not all about Eve, though. At 19, the multi-talented Muirhead is getting ready to play the lead role for the Great Britain women's curling team at the Winter Olympics. She has been picked for the skip's job in the GB quartet, ahead of Jackie Lockhead, a 44-year-old former world champion who will be competing in her fourth Olympics. She has been given the honour on merit – as a rising star in the curling firmament, the first player to win a hat-trick of world junior titles and the first to skip in the world junior and senior championships in the same year.

"To get named as skip for Vancouver was fantastic," Muirhead reflects. "I wouldn't lie: in the first few competitions of the season I was anxious; I didn't want to make a fool of myself. But I think being so young is a huge advantage for the team. When I'm off the ice I'm very laid-back but as soon as we take the ice I'm very competitive. I'm very decisive. It's a huge advantage for me to have Jackie behind me, knowing she's got a vast amount of experience. There's a vast age range in our team but when we step on the ice we eliminate the age totally and concentrate, all four of us, on our game."

Muirhead will be supported on the ice in the Vancouver Olympic Centre by the veteran Lockhead and a pair of twentysomethings – Kelly Wood, 28, and Lorna Vevers, 29. Her mission in Canada is twofold: to push for a medal and to push for a fresh take on the image of her sport. As a 19-year-old blonde with the Olympic insignia tattooed on her lower back, Muirhead does not exactly conform to the conventional picture.

"A lot of people think curling's a sport for old ladies and old men," she says. "It's not. We have great fun together as a team and I think me being so young lets the younger generation know what's possible. I think the sport is moving in the right direction. That is definitely the aim: to move the sport forward and build. It would be fantastic to have curling as a sport that everyone knows about."

Another "Stone of Destiny" would certainly help – like the one that made Rhona Martin a household name when she struck gold for the British team with her decisive throw in the final in Salt Lake City in 2002. "I was 12 then," Muirhead recalls. I had school the next day but I was allowed to stay up and watch. It was a great inspiration for the sport and for me. Rhona winning the gold showed what can be done and it's something I've dreamt of ever since."

Muirhead was introduced to the sport as a nine-year-old by her father, Gordon, a world championship dual silver medallist. She turned down several offers of golfing scholarships to join the small band of Scottish curlers who have become full-time athletes with the backing of Sportscotland's Institute of Sport, working with nutritionists, sports psychologists and physiologists. "Fitness makes a huge difference in curling," she says. "Everyone thinks you just step on the ice and play but the stamina you need in curling is huge."

The expectation being placed on Muirhead and her team is not so much huge as hopeful – they are seen as outside contenders for medals. Still, the teenage skip has her sights set on the podium. "A medal is definitely realistic," she says. "But first things first. We've got to perform strongly in the round-robin stages to move on to the semi-final spots. Once you're in the semi-finals, you're only two games away from that medal."

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices