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Curling: Tough acts to follow, but Glen on right path

Glen Muirhead had to tear himself away from the television screen - in a gallery that is almost shrine to his family - in order to get his bid to join their roll of honour under way in Perth yesterday.

The walls of the staircase he descended from the Muirhead Suite to the Dewar's Centre ice are adorned with framed pennants marking the repeated achievements of his little sister Eve, the multiple junior and current senior world champion. Most recently, another has appeared bearing the name of their teenage brother Thomas - a member of Kyle Smith's Junior World Championship winning rink - while dad Gordon is also a world champion.

As Eve's Olympic campaign was opening in disappointing fashion with a defeat by Sweden in Sochi, Glen knew his big chance was looming. He plays third in Logan Gray's rink, the favourites to win this week's national championships after losing the final last year to Tom Brewster's British Olympic team. They also won, on this same ice, last month's Mercure Perth Masters when half the rinks contesting in Sochi were taking part.

"The only distraction was during our pre-game preparation," Muirhead admitted. "We were trying to watch the start of Eve's game up the stairs before we went on the ice, but we were strict enough with ourselves to pull away and warm up for our own game.

"We know we've got a job to do, while we wish them all the best at the same time. We'll keep our eyes on her, but keep our focus on our own job."

It was a relatively under-stated start to the competition for Scottish curling's Loudmouth brigade - they are sponsored by the kit manufacturer - as they edged out Lee McLeary's rink 3-2, holding their nerve at the final end.

It would have been easier had it not been for a superb shot at the penultimate end from the opposition skip ricocheting off one of his own stones lying on the left edge of the house to remove one of theirs and leave McLeary lying two to level the match.

"It was steady enough, keeping it nice and simple for the first game because, with varying ice conditions, you don't want to get yourselves in too much trouble early on," Muirhead said. "We did what we intended to pretty well and it was just how we wanted to approach it."

With Brewster's rink controversially absent from this event because of their Olympic commitments - they have dominated the national scene in recent years - the oldest of the Muirhead siblings knows there has been no better chance for some time to make a mark on the global stage

"That's the intention," he acknowledged. "I'd better keep up with them [Eve and Thomas], eh?" added the 24-year-old with a wry smile.

This week's winners go on to the World Championships in China where the Gray rink could have a slight advantage if they get through, since they are among a select few to have played there previously.

"We've been to Beijing already this season for the China Open, so we know what to expect, but regardless it's the World Championships," said Muirhead. "It was the first event they've ever held so it will definitely be better for the Worlds, but we reached the semi-finals and were in amongst it in what were challenging ice conditions."

Among those carrying the biggest threat will be the team containing little brother Thomas, as they were also among the winners in the opening round of matches, having just won another Scottish Junior title.

Meanwhile, in the women's event, Hannah Fleming's rink continue to lead the way. They registered a fifth win out of six yesterday, results from a previous series of round-robin matches two months ago having carried over.

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