Mike Hay: Why can’t you ever write off the hugely determined Eve Muirhead?



Mike Hay is well versed in knowing what it takes to enjoy a successful Winter Olympics.

After all, the former Perth curler was Team GB’s Chef de Mission at both Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018.

And going back further, she helped guide the women’s team to Olympic gold in Salt Lake City in 2002. Who could forget Rhona Martin’s stone of destiny?

Hay reflects on those special memories with a smile.

Having stepped back for this month’s showpiece in Beijing, the Perth High alumnus will be glued to the television and cheering on Britain’s best in a variety of sports.

Particular attention will obviously be paid to curling where two of Perthshire’s own, skipping Eve Muirhead and fifth-place Mili Smith, are vying to return with a memorable medal.

For Muirhead, this will be his fourth Games, and Hay’s message was clear: “You can never write Eve off.”

“He came back, won the Europeans and then was pretty dominant in the Olympic qualifiers,” he added.

“There are other favorites in Sweden, Canada and Russia. I think they will be very hard.

“I know that Eve was bitterly disappointed in Pyeongchang. If it wasn’t going to be the final, she certainly wanted that bronze medal.

“The difference between third and fourth place is huge. You are an Olympic medalist for life, but fourth place is hard to remember.

“Eve has a new team and it will be interesting to see how they play.

“But I have absolutely no doubt that she can handle the pressure and handle the big moments.

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“There aren’t too many skips out there who can do that, or many who certainly have the same experience as her.

“It’s hard to believe that these are his fourth Games. A fourth Games and he’s only 31 years old, that’s unbelievable.

“She is one of these unique characters who has a lot of determination and loves the game. She never lets you down in the big games.

“Eve will be determined and having beaten some of the best teams in the Europeans will have given her a lot of confidence.”

For Smith, an alumna of Guildtown’s Perth Academy, this will be her first experience at a Winter Olympics.

“We have a great tradition,” Hay said of Perthshire’s continued presence on the world curling stage.

“I spent my whole life curling with Mili’s father and I played with him in the World Seniors a couple of years ago.

“I know she is very excited. She is the fifth player, but you might get a chance. Who knows what can happen.

“I would love to see her get a game and be a part of the team in that way.

“There’s a well-trodden road in Perth and the fact that they have role models gives everyone great self-confidence.

“Having a place, and a great place, within the city is a huge thing. You have the opportunity from school age to play on good ice, with good stones. It gives you an advantage if you stay.

Of course, Hay would love to be in Beijing to see how the drama unfolds, but, as noted, she will be following every shot from home.

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“I would have loved to have gone to Beijing,” admitted Hay. “I got a call to see if I would have minded being on the long list.

“I will be awake at all hours watching almost every game Great Britain plays. I am looking forward to two weeks.

“It feels a bit strange that I’m not there, but I’m determined to watch on TV. I wouldn’t miss it.

The mixed doubles curling competition is already underway in Beijing, although Muirhead and Smith’s first match isn’t until Thursday with a first match against Switzerland.




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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