When Bruce Mouat and his rink head to the World Curling Championships next month, they will have an added incentive to do well.

This time last year, Mouat and his teammates, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan, were just days away from one of the biggest weeks of their career; a home World Championship. However, due to the pandemic, the event was called off at the very last minute.

It was a blow that was difficult for Mouat to come to terms with and so he has been harbouring the desire to win World silverware for an entire year ever since.

Mouat’s life is normally one of constant travelling to compete overseas. But almost a year on from the cancellation of the Glasgow World Championships, the world number five has been forced to prepare for this year’s championships in a very different way to usual.

Mouat and his rink will travel to Calgary in Canada next month having been denied any international competition since the pandemic began but a raft of Scottish competitions in recent months, in which Mouat is undefeated, has sharpened him up nicely.

And as he prepares to head to Canada, Mouat, who is aiming to improve on his World Championship bronze medal from 2018, admits the match-sharpness he has gained from playing his compatriots in recent months could well prove to be invaluable in an event which, he believes, is much harder to predict than major championships usually are.

“Things are much more uncertain than normal because some countries have been training this whole time while others haven’t,” the Edinburgh-born skip says.

HeraldScotland: Photo: PPA/ Graeme HartPhoto: PPA/ Graeme Hart

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“But for us, playing against teams like Paterson and Whyte in Scotland, both of whom are top-20 in the world, means we know we’re getting extremely good competition.

“We always go to a World Championships aiming for first place. We’ve been close on a couple of occasions so we’re going to back ourselves that we can get the gold.”

The past year has, unsurprisingly, been extremely challenging for Mouat. Not only did he and his teammates have to deal with the cancellation of their home World Championships but, due to lockdown restrictions, they ended up being off the ice for months.

And he admits that getting over the disappointment of the cancellation of the Glasgow World’s didn’t happen overnight.

“As the World Champs last year got closer, you could feel the energy in the country so we’d been really looking forward to it. We’d been thinking about how

much we wanted to try to win a World medal in our home country,” the 26-year-old says.

“The first few days, I really struggled to come to terms with the disappointment but then we started to hear about people who were really suffering and that put things into perspective,” he says.

“But as much as the cancellation was a tough blow for us, I do feel like the right decision was made and so we just had to deal with the disappointment.”

As tough as last year was, Mouat is able to take solace from the fact he has been able to glean some significant positives from the time off competing.

“We’ve had such a sustained period of training and I saw major gains in my strength - I feel stronger than I’ve ever been, which is a huge positive to come of all of this,” he says.

“I’m throwing better than I ever have which must be connected to my physical shape having improved.”

HeraldScotland: Photo: PPA/ Graeme HartPhoto: PPA/ Graeme Hart

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While Mouat’s immediate target is getting his hands on World silverware, in the back of his mind are next year’s Winter Olympics, which are now less than a year away.

Mouat and his rink are fully focused on making their Olympic debut in China next year but first they must ensure GB secure a place, which can be done with a top-6 finish at the upcoming World Championships, and gain selection ahead of his Scottish rivals, Team Muirhead and Team Whyte, who will no doubt provide a stiff test.

However, with Mouat well in the driving seat, he admits he does occasionally allow the thought of winning an Olympic medal pop into his head.

“There’s a lot going on between now and the Olympics,” he says.

“We have to first get selected but I’m allowing myself to believe we can get there.

“It’d be a huge thing to train for all these years and finally get to an Olympics. And if we do get to Beijing, I’m going to do everything possible to try to get a medal.”