THOMAS MUIRHEAD stops talking to address the insistent bleating disturbing his train of thought.

"Sorry about that," he says, resuming the conversation. "I'm in the middle of a field and sheep don't realise that you're a world champion."

The line is delivered deadpan by a 17-year-old rooted in reality. He might be part of the first Scottish team to win the World Junior Curling Championships since 1996, but it's lambing season on the family farm at Blair Atholl, so sporting aspirations must be set aside for the moment.

Muirhead can do so safe in the knowledge that success in Sochi at the beginning of the month means he is no longer at risk of being considered the black sheep of a family of world-class curlers. With sister Eve having won the senior women's title last week to add to her four at junior level, father Gordon having won the men's event in 1999 and brother Glen also a curler of some repute, there was a certain degree of expectation that Thomas would succeed at international level, too.

Carrying such a respected family name – one garlanded by two world titles inside a month, lest we forget – is quite a burden to place on someone so young, but the teenager handles it with impressive maturity. "You do feel a pressure," he concedes. "Everyone knows who you are and knows your family and that makes a difference on the ice, as much as you try to ignore it. I feel an expectation to perform at a high level, but I enjoy that challenge."

Indeed, rather than be fazed by the situation, Muirhead considers it as little more than an elaborate game of one-upmanship. It has been ever thus since he first took to the ice at the age of eight, having spent his formative years being dragged down to the rink, along with his siblings, to watch his father play.

The imperative in those early days was to try and get the better of Eve and Glen, and little has changed. "At first, I just wanted to do what they did, but soon it became about trying to beat them," he recalls. "We have a laugh and joke about it and I thought I'd got the upper hand over Eve for once by winning the juniors, but now she's gone and stolen the spotlight again. I suppose now she's won the women's I'll just need to win the men's to get even."

It is likely that Muirhead will have to wait a few years first – the 2018 Winter Olympics his first senior international target – but there remains plenty to achieve at junior level. Given that the world championships are held annually at that level, he has another three attempts to add to his debut title and match his sister's junior haul.

This term's successful rink are permitted another season together before skip Kyle Smith graduates to the seniors, but his brother, lead Cammy, has another two years as a junior, as does second Kyle Waddell, meaning three of the triumphant team will potentially have the chance to win three consecutive crowns.

To do so, however, they must first qualify by winning the Scottish title, something that can often be just as taxing, given the strength in depth of the domestic game. "Everyone will up their game to play us and will change their approach, so it will be a bigger challenge and the hard work will start now," Muirhead acknowledges. "Even this season, Kyle Smith had to play an exceptional shot to win the Scottish and we had a few games that went down to an extra end."

Asked to identify what it is that gives them the edge, Muirhead suggests that the bond between the quartet is key. The Smith brothers have obvious ties, but Muirhead and Kyle Smith have played together in their respective roles of skip and third since childhood and attend agricultural college together in Edinburgh, while Waddell has been part of the rink for several seasons. From Hamilton, he is the only member of the team not to hail from Perthshire and is the joker of a group that also includes alternate Hammy McMillan, whose father skipped Gordon Muirhead's world championship-winning side in 1999.

"It makes a huge difference, knowing how each other works," Muirhead explains. "The four have only been together for this season – Cammy just joined us this year – but we've all known each other for years and we are the best of mates. You spend so much time together that team dynamics are crucial and, if we didn't get along as well as we do, I don't think we'd have done so well in Sochi. You need to be able to say what you think and know the right time to say it."

The right time, it would appear, is not in the middle of lambing season.

* Winning Students currently supports more than 150 talented athletes – including Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Smith, Kyle Waddell and Hammy McMillan – across 31 Scottish colleges and universities, providing funding support and academic flexibility.