“Dancing in entrance of the Strictly viewers would give me the entire worry. I’d relatively eat these disgusting issues on I’m A Celeb.”
When the topic of her upcoming chapter in life is introduced up, Eve Muirhead sits contently. For somebody whose complete life has been dominated by regularity, the 32-year-old finds that peering into the long run is remarkably comfy.
Since ending her curling profession in August, the Scot has led a busy life, commentating on golf and each sports activities, taking part in bagpipes at gala dinners, making ready with Steve Cram for the London Marathon, and even ending third within the BBC Sports activities Persona of the Yr competitors this 12 months. Moreover, discussions concerning hurling some stones onto a frozen loch at Balmoral have been held with the subsequent King.
For Muirhead, who retired on the peak of her sport by including an Olympic gold to her present world blended doubles and European titles, it should at all times be a watershed 12 months. One emotional occasion in Beijing noticed the fulfilment of a lifelong obsession.
However pondering again to December of final 12 months, issues might have been very completely different for the Staff GB skip who wanted to be persuaded to skate once more.
Each 4 years, a nation has gathered to see Muirhead and her rink attempt to win gold ever since they received bronze on the Sochi Video games. It appeared inevitable on condition that she served because the face of British curling for almost all of her profession.
That excellent, nonetheless, was about as far-off because it had ever been as 2021 got here to a conclusion. Staff Muirhead was confronted with the potential for having to compete in qualifying merely to board a flight to China after a disappointing exhibiting on the World Championships.
She had had sufficient.
“After the Worlds, being sincere, I needed to cease, I needed to stop,” Muirhead instructed BBC Scotland.
“It was very, very tough. I might have fairly fortunately most likely by no means curled once more or retired proper then. However you give your self a shake, you get the allow you to want, you communicate to the suitable individuals and also you suppose you’ve nonetheless obtained an opportunity of attending to your fourth Winter Olympic Video games.
“I knew we had one final likelihood on the Olympic qualifying occasion, when three groups out of 10 obtained the final three spots. That appeared distant to me. It was a good distance away and it appeared like one thing I didn’t need to put myself by way of. I discovered it exhausting sufficient getting over the World Championships not to mention going and curling once more.
“However I managed to tug myself spherical after getting various assist. I wasn’t nicely, however I used to be nicely sufficient to return to ice. I went again, knuckled down and centered on myself.
“I managed to show that I used to be adequate to go to that occasion with one other 4 women, a unique group, to the Worlds and we received the occasion, adopted by profitable the Europeans, then the remaining is historical past.”
Muirhead and her rink boarded the plane for Beijing with out the form of anticipation that might have been packed if there had been a less-turbulent takeoff. The Scot mentions having “no bullseye on our backs” and having hope that “one thing extraordinary” would occur.
And it was demonstrated because the Scot defeated Japan 10-3 with the assistance of Vicky Wright, Jen Dodds, and Hailey Duff. Muirhead scored an excellent 4 within the seventh finish to all however clinch the victory and a decisive victory.
“I’d by no means actually thought of it as an obsession, however it most likely was,” mentioned Muirhead, who underwent hip surgical procedure to make her fourth Video games.
“You get that style of medal success and, when you get the bronze, you simply need that gold. You see others getting them.”
Successful Olympic gold is one thing each athlete lies in mattress at night time visualising. The second of victory, the nationwide anthem, the wild social gathering afterwards. However what do you do while you clinch it at a Video games with heavy responsibility Covid restrictions?
“I keep in mind returning from Beijing and I truthfully reckon I had about six hours sleep in 4 nights,” she recalled. “I used to be exhausted.
“I used to be about 10 steps from my very own mattress, I couldn’t wait, after which my complete avenue placed on a celebration, which was superb. To get recognition like that from individuals you don’t actually know however they clearly know who you might be.”
Life-changing choices, marathons & the long run
“To be sincere, I by no means as soon as thought of ending put up Beijing,” she defined. “It was exhausting sufficient getting myself to Beijing for my fourth Winter Olympic Video games. It by no means actually crossed my thoughts ‘When am I going to complete?’ or put a time restrict on this.
“The weeks and months handed and, because the curling season got here nearer, sooner or later I awoke and thought ‘you recognize what, I simply can’t anymore’. The considered getting up and throwing extra stones and placing in the identical period of time as I’ve at all times accomplished – I’d by no means do something half hearted.
“For me, that morning I simply determined ‘that is it. I’ve determined to hold up my sneakers now’.
“I spoke to my household and the individuals very near me for a second opinion. Was I being silly stepping away from sport once I’m the present Olympic, World and European champion? I didn’t actually know.
“To listen to and get it confirmed that that is presumably the most effective time with the help, it actually helped.”
Muirhead had beforehand mentioned the potential for an impending post-gold downturn, however there are at the moment few indications that issues are slowing down. She desires it that approach, in any case.
Whereas taking up varied duties within the media is offering a possibility to strive one thing recent, she acquired her MBE and OBE from then Prince Charles in the summertime.
“He [King Charles] does communicate loads about curling to be sincere. I met him a couple of weeks in the past at a reception at Buckingham Palace with the Tokyo Olympic medallists and the Beijing Winter Olympics medallists and he loves to speak about curling and Balmoral on the frozen lochs. He was asking if I’ve ever curled outdoors,” mentioned Muirhead, who additionally confessed a stint on Dancing On Ice doesn’t beckon as she will be able to’t skate.
“I positively haven’t had a droop and I feel it should take a couple of years to completely transition from being a full-time elite athlete.
“I like to preserve energetic. I’m really within the London Marathon in April, so that’s one thing I can construct in the direction of, it’s a aim to set myself. I’ve obtained Steve Cram writing my coaching programme. Folks suppose I’m loopy, however I would like one thing to construct in the direction of.
“Proper now, I’m simply having fun with life. Since I’ve been an athlete since a child, all I’ve skilled is college and being a full-time roller. Now truthfully I really feel slightly bit extra free. There’s a life on the market, there’s a world on the market and proper now I’m exploring it.”