Angus influence in our curling team's gold medal heroics

The influence of the Angus county was felt on the world stage when Team GB’s curlers picked up Olympic gold on Sunday morning.

By
Scott Inglis
Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 12:47pm
Angus influence in our curling team's gold medal heroics

The nation’s women’s curling team have been heralded across the country since their dominant 10-3 Winter Olympic Games final victory over Japan.

Of the five player squad, two, Vicky Wright and Hailey Duff, are from Forfar.

Captain Eve Muirhead, Wright, Jen Dodds, Duff and their alternate Mili Smith became Olympic champions in Beijing’s Ice Cube after the one-sided final which they dominated from the outset.

The plaudits have been pouring in for the squad, with The Queen among those sending her congratulations at the start of the week.

As their compatriots had done two decades before, the British women’s team kept millions at home out of their beds into the small hours of the morning as they powered to victory in a match that was over as a contest long before the concession of the match was made with an end to spare.

There were tears on the podium from skip Muirhead as the realisation of what they had achieved hit home when the Union Flag was raised for the first time at the games.

It had been a turbulent campaign for Team GB up until the final, with their qualification for the semi-finals taken out of their own hands towards the end of the round robin phase.

Thankfully, they did what was required in their final match round robin game against Russia, with results elsewhere meaning they advanced.

In the semi-finals, they beat Sweden before their decisive final victory.

The team arrived back in the UK earlier this week, where interest in their achievement took them across the national TV stations.

Captain Muirhead paid tribute to her squad, hailing Wright for her skills in adapting to a new role.

“When Vicky first started curling with us, she was playing lead and when there was a change made and she was put to third, she didn’t want to do it,” she explained.

“It took a lot of persuasion and a lot of encouragement to show her she was one of the best thirds in the world and now look at her standing on the podium with an Olympic gold medal round her neck.

“She’s the mother within the team and she is a nurse and we have to take our hats off to her for what she has done during Covid-19, when she was working in the hospital several days a week.

"She just cares so much about everyone and would give her right arm to help someone.”

Muirhead also lavished praise on newcomer Duff.

“Hailey came from not even being in the podium squad of British Curling and here she is winning the Olympic Games,” said the skip.

“She’s a phenomenal curler and, through the years, I can see her back here on the podium, the same as all these girls, because I think the talent is just second to none.”

Duff’s path towards Olympic gold saw her learn the game at Fothringham Curling Club.

The club is rightly proud of her history with the Angus group, where she played for some years.

Press secretary Jill Donald was delighted to see Duff and both the women’s and men’s team, who won silver, do so well on such a huge stage.

She said: “I think it is safe to say we have all been glued to the TV for the past two weeks, watching the winter Olympics and watching Team GB secure the only two medals for the country.

"Many congratulations to former Fothrie member Hailey Duff and her team for winning gold against Japan and to Bruce Mouat and his team for their sterling performance against Sweden and winning silver.

"They are true ambassadors to our sport and we are incredibly proud of their efforts.”

Skipper Muirhead said the medal ceremony was “emotional” as the tears flowed on the podium.

“I managed to hold it in until the flag was getting raised there but it’s a moment I’ve been waiting for for so many years,” added Muirhead, from Perth.

“I’ve been close but just haven’t been able to get over the line. But the girls have helped me become a better curler and they have also helped me become a better person.

“Without them I wouldn’t be here and it’s such an incredible, incredible moment.

“It’s been an Olympic Games that’s not been easy.

"We came here knowing every game was going to be tough and we showed our resilience in the semi-final, where we showed how much fight we have and today we played an amazing game.

“We definitely kept the best to last and I’m so proud of the girls in how we played today, because if you can bring you’re a game in an Olympic final, that just shows what fantastic abilities we all have.”

Team GB raced into a 4-1 midway point lead, which they closed out.

The contest was effectively ended at the seventh when another miscue by the Japanese skip left her British counterpart with the chance for a promotion takeout to score four. Muirhead duly delivered the coup de grace, putting her team 8-2 ahead, her vice-skip Wright describing the match clinching strike as “perfect.”

“We discussed the ice when we were up the other end and knew what it was going to do and, as soon as she let go of it, I knew it was made from hand. I was so confident watching it coming down that she had absolutely smashed it,” Wright added.

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