#SJA2023: Eve Muirhead: ‘I didn’t retire to just sit at home and twiddle my thumbs’

By Lucy Wilde

Olympic curling champion Eve Muirhead has no intention of putting her feet up in retirement as she looks ahead to next year’s Winter Youth Olympics.

The Perth-born curler was presented with the National Lottery’s Spirit of Sport award at the SJA British Sports Awards 2023 at the Kia Oval by former GB long-jumper Greg Rutherford.

The award, which acknowledges role models both in sport and life, is a testament to Muirhead’s unrelenting ambition both on and off the rink which has continued even in her retirement.

She’s been appointed as Team GB’s Chef de Mission for the Gangwon Games next year and is campaigning to save ice rinks across Scotland.

Muirhead said: “I didn’t retire just to sit at home, twiddle my thumbs and not do much.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work with Team GB, British Olympic Association – the National Olympic Committee behind Team GB – and commentary, so I’ve been keeping busy.

“I’m very passionate about trying to save our ice rinks and get more people through the door by increasing participation. If I can get more people involved, then the better.”

Eve Muirhead, SJA British Sports Awards 2023
Award winner Eve Muirhead is interviewed by SJA Academy member Lucy Wilde

Muirhead officially stepped away from the rink after skippering Team GB to gold at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, adding to bronze from Sochi 2014 as well as World and European titles.

With a professional career spanning 15 years and 21 international titles, switching off the “target-setting” is something the decorated champion isn’t yet ready to do.

Muirhead said: “When you’re an athlete there’s always a drive and you have a set goal to work towards. When you’ve got that athlete mentality, whatever you do, you want to be the best at it.

“It was a tough decision to retire but I’d set the bar so high, I was almost worried I wouldn’t achieve the same again.

“I always want to drive and get better. I thought that when I retired that might fade away, but it hasn’t.”

Having completed a 3:24 marathon and qualified for the 2024 World Hyrox Championships – a multi-discipline crossfit style event – Muirhead has continued to add to her already enviable CV.

She said: “I wanted to set some targets and the marathon is something I’ve always wanted to do, so why not do it the year I retire?”

This can-do attitude – no more evident than in Muirhead’s fightback to form after having hip surgery during the pandemic – has translated into campaign work across her native Scotland.

With surging energy prices forcing the closure of a number of ice rinks across the nation, the former curler has rallied for the government to increase funding to help save the sport and is trying to open more in England.

For now though, the Scot is focused on Gangwon ahead of the New Year and will be hoping that the next generation of curlers can follow in her footsteps.

Far from following the traditional retirement path, the last 16 months showcase Muirhead as a more-than-worthy award winner, and suggest “winding down” is far from in her tarot cards.

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