Sport England campaign This Girl Can aims to encourage more women to take up sport. But which one’s for you? Standard Issue is talking to different sportswomen to learn what they love about theirs. This week Hannah Dunleavy talks to Olympic curling bronze medallist Eve Muirhead.
Eve Muirhead. Picture by RyAwesome, via Wikimedia Commons
At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Eve Muirhead became the youngest ever curling skip, male or female, to win an Olympic medal. She’s 24 and lives in Stirling.
Did you come from a sporty family?
Yes. My Dad was a top-class curler and won World Championships and my brothers are right into curling – and every sport – as well. My mum, she doesn’t really play a lot of curling, but she always claims she won some trophies back at school.
So curling was your sport from the outset?
I played a lot of golf when I was younger. I managed to get down to scratch (a zero handicap) at that and I got offered a couple of scholarships for America. But I realised I had such a great opportunity in curling and if I did go and pursue golf, I couldn’t curl. It was quite a tough decision but I think, so far, I definitely made the right decision.
What’s the best thing about the sport?
There’s lots of different aspects to it. You’ve got to be very tactically aware. That’s one area I’ve been getting better and better at – identifying the way the game’s moving on. I love playing with a team – every member is just as important as the others. I’ve met most of my friends through curling. You get to travel the world; I’ve got friends in every corner of the globe – it’s a very social sport.
What sort of levels of fitness are required for curling?
A lot more than people think. I go to the gym twice a day. For me, the more physically fit I am, the more mentally fit I am. If I have a lapse in concentration and make the wrong decision – that could cost me. And for the sweepers, they’re doing that non-stop for two and a half hours, for up to three games a day, so the physical side, the stability side, is important.
What advice would you give a woman who wants to take up curling?
Hopefully, the sport is growing so check at your local ice rink. My one tip would be don’t give up after the first try. People think it looks easy and it’s definitely not. They try it and wake up the next day sore. But keep at it. It won’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of practice but it’s good fun as well. A group of you can get together, you can have fun and games. And most ice rinks have a bar you can go to after.
What would you say has been your biggest achievement?
Winning an Olympic medal is obviously a huge achievement. I won the World Championships which, for me, is massive as well. That was one of my goals as a young girl and I managed it in 2013.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?
You’ve got to learn how to lose before you can win. I’ve had quite a lot of devastating defeats in my career. One being in the semi-final at the Olympics. Curling’s one of those sports that can go on for a week. You can have back-to-back games that go on for several hours, so you’ve got to deal with defeat quickly to get back on form for the next game.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
One of my greatest inspirations has been Jessica Ennis. Watching her in London was a real eye-opener. All that she’d been through, with injury and the pressure of being the poster girl, and she pulled it off and won the gold medal. So she’s definitely someone I look up to.
When you’re not playing and training, what else do you get time to do?
(laughs) Not a lot. I like shopping, I like chilling out, I like going to see family. It is good to get a bit of time off and catch up.
Lastly, have you got any advice about generally getting and keeping fit?
Consistency is one of the main things. In January and February people rush get fit for their New Year’s resolution, but it’s consistency that’s important. Not going too hard at the start and not finishing early. You’re better doing two or three sessions a week for a year, than five sessions a week for a few months. Plan your week and stick at it.
Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.