Eve Muirhead’s curling team out to give GB golden finish to Winter Olympics

Muirhead’s team take on Japan in the final on Sunday.

Eve Muirhead (right) is targeting Great Britain’s first gold of the Olympics (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Eve Muirhead (right) is targeting Great Britain’s first gold of the Olympics (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Eve Muirhead has been tasked with claiming Great Britain’s first and only gold medal of the Beijing Winter Olympics as her team prepare to take on Japan in the women’s curling final on Sunday.

Muirhead watched from the stands as Bruce Mouat’s men’s rink fell agonisingly short against Sweden at the National Aquatics Centre on Saturday, and was among the first to offer her dejected counterparts her sympathy.

But Muirhead will be steely-focused as she targets the one major curling medal that still eludes her, and will be backed up by an inexperienced team that nevertheless comes armed with plenty of momentum and a welcome sense of perspective.

Eve Muirhead hopes to lead her Great Britain curling team to glory (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Vice-skip Vicky Wright is a nurse who will return to work on the NHS front-line next week, having juggled her curling training with her vital work during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I feel very lucky that I have the best of both worlds,” said Wright. “If I am having a bad day on the ice, I will go to work and really get a perspective that my life is actually OK, there are a lot of people worse off than me.

“If I am having a bad day at work, I have curling to focus on, which is rewarding for me. I find it keeps my really grounded and I am able to do both.”

Wright is part of Muirhead’s four-strong team, along with Jennifer Dodds and Hailey Duff, that is now tasked with becoming Britain’s first Olympic curling champions since Rhona Martin’s famous triumph in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Vicky Wright turned to full-time nursing during the pandemic (Graeme Hart/PA)

She works in a surgical ward at the Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert, which was requisitioned as a Covid ward during the pandemic surge.

Wright and the team were in Canada ahead of the 2020 World Championships, which were cancelled two days before their scheduled start date. She came home and immediately helped the battle against the virus.

“When the pandemic hit we were in Canada and I flew home and went back to work,” added Wright. “We couldn’t train or do anything, and I trained as a nurse for a reason, so I just went back to do it full-time.

“I finished working full-time on January 6. I worked nights over Christmas and worked Christmas Eve.”

Vicky Wright celebrates Great Britain’s victory over Sweden (Andrew Milligan/PA).

Wright said she would head into the gold medal showdown with an extra incentive as she seeks bragging rights over her fiance Greg Drummond, who was part of David Murdoch’s silver medal-winning men’s team in 2014.

Drummond was in Beijing as coach of Bruce Mouat and Dodds in the mixed doubles competition but flew home last week after watching the duo narrowly miss out on a medal.

“I definitely want to go one better,” laughed Wright. “Before I came out here, I said to him, ‘I will go and get gold and bring back the bragging rights’. He has had them for eight years, and I think it’s time I get them back.”

Great Britain booked their place in the final after an extraordinary 12-11 semi-final win over Sweden, fighting back from a 4-0 deficit after the first end to seal victory in an extra end.

It capped a remarkable route for Muirhead’s team, who had to battle through a tough qualifying tournament to reach Beijing, then only squeezed through to the semi-finals having been reliant on two other results going their way.

“The adversity has made us a lot stronger,” said Wright. “We had to fight hard to qualify and then we won the Europeans, but we have grown as a strong group and we will make the most of every opportunity that comes our way.”

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