Eve Muirhead retires: Olympic champion curler announces ‘hardest decision of my life’

·3-min read
Eve Muirhead retires: Olympic champion curler announces ‘hardest decision of my life’

Eve Muirhead, Great Britain’s curling captain who led Team GB to Olympic gold in Beijing earlier this year, has announced her retirement from the sport.

The 32-year-old brings to an end a glittering career which saw her win European and world titles before that elusive Olympic crown in February.

In a statement, Muirhead said: “After 15 years of international curling and 21 international titles I have made the hardest decision of my life to hang up my curling shoes and retire. Throughout my career and like most athletes, I have experienced both the highest of the highs (becoming an Olympic champion) and the lowest of lows and at times the future seemed very distant. It’s been an emotional journey but a journey that I am incredibly proud of.”

Muirhead, whose father Gordon was an international curler, grew up in Perthshire where she excelled as both a golfer and bagpiper, playing golf off scratch and piping competitively on the world stage. At the same time she progressed through the Scottish curling ranks, winning gold at the 2007 World Junior Championships in Minnesota, and again in Sweden and Vancouver the following years.

Her success saw her win the BBC Scotland Young Sports Personality of the Year award in 2009, and she turned down golf scholarships in America in order to concentrate on her dream of becoming an Olympic champion.

She made her first appearance at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010, skipping GB to three round-robin wins as they failed to make the semi-finals. She led the team to bronze in Sochi four years later and fourth in Pyeongchang in 2018, but a place in the final continued to elude Muirhead and her team.

Finally they earned their shot at gold earlier this year, despite arriving at Beijing 2022 with some of their poorest form for many years. They had finished a disappointing eighth at the World Championships in 2021, and looked no better at the start of the Olympics as they lost four games in the round-robin stage to only squeeze into the semi-finals.

Eve Muirhead (right) with team-mates (from left) Mili Smith, Hailey Duff, Jennifer Dodds and Vicky Wright (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
Eve Muirhead (right) with team-mates (from left) Mili Smith, Hailey Duff, Jennifer Dodds and Vicky Wright (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

But there they won a thriller against reigning champions Sweden, closing out a 12-11 victory after the match went to an extra end. And in the final they dominated Japan – who had beaten Britain to bronze four years earlier – to earn a convincing 10-3 win, and finally gold. “It’s a dream come true,” said a tearful Muirhead after the medal ceremony. “That was my third semi-final, and the two I lost were hard but I bounced back and here we are. We are Olympic champions. It’s such a special moment.”

In her retirement statement, Muirhead thanked her teammates, sponsors, the National Lottery and UK Sport, British and Scottish Curling, her fans, and lastly her family and friends. “Thank you for always backing me and supporting any decision I have made. I love you and can’t wait to spend more time with you.”

She signed off by hinting that plans for a future beyond the rink were already in the works. “Retiring from curling as a current European, world and Olympic champion is something I always dreamt of, and I am signing off with a huge smile on my face. With regards to what’s next... I’m looking forward to exploring more opportunities and getting my golf clubs out... but watch this space!”