IT seems almost unbelievable that Eve Muirhead is still only 31 years old. 

The Perthshire woman is something of a veteran of the curling scene, having made her international debut over a decade ago and picked up countless major victories along the way, including European Championship golds, the most recent only a few months ago, as well as world titles. 

There is, though, one prize still missing from Muirhead’s CV, and it is an omission she is hoping to put right over the next week-or-so. 

Despite having established herself as one of the best female curlers in the history of her sport, and having won almost everything there is to win, Muirhead does not have an Olympic gold medal to her name. 

Back in 2014, as a 23-year-old, she won Olympic bronze in Sochi but having beaten the very best of the best in her sport over the years, she knows she has what it takes to grab that elusive gold medal in Beijing this week and it is a gap in her record that she would love to fill. 

“I do think about what I still want to achieve and an Olympic gold is one medal I am missing. It is something I want to be in a position to fight for and, in Beijing, I’m in that position so that’s all I can ask for,” she says. 

“I know I’ve got a team behind me who are as dedicated and as talented as me and so it’s exciting being at the Olympics in a position to perform to our best.  

“I really do believe that whatever happens, we’ve put in everything we can to try for that gold.” 

Muirhead’s build-up to the Beijing Games, which will be her fourth Olympic appearance, has been in marked contrast to that of her previous three. 

This time, the women’s squad operated on a rotation system, with team members switching in and out with each competition while failure to qualify automatically for Beijing earlier in the season saw them forced to fight it out for the final few available places in Beijing in the do-or-die Olympic qualifier last December. 

The class of Muirhead, plus her teammates of Vicki Wright, Jen Dodds and Hailey Duff, ultimately shone through, winning that Olympic qualification event and while the past year has been unlike anything she has ever experienced, Muirhead believes she heads into these Games a stronger athlete because of it. 

“It’s been such a tough road to get to Beijing so just being here and having GB on our backs feels so rewarding and shows the hard work that the team’s put in has paid off,” Muirhead says. 

“I never want to experience the pressure of the qualifiers again but actually, I think that’s been really helpful going into the Games because that event was very intense and it was competition that some of the other teams didn’t get. It gave us another chance to play under real pressure before the Olympics. 

“And with the rotation system, I’ve had to fight for my spot in the team just the same as everyone else this season and I was nervous as any of the other girls about making it.  

“You don’t know how the others are going to do so every day you have to just focus on performing to the best of your own ability and also show that you’re the best team player because, at the end of the day, it’s a team sport.  

So I think this has been a unique season for me, just like it has for the others, and that’s been a good thing.” 

Muirhead may be a veteran of the Olympic scene but the same cannot be said of her teammates.  

Muirhead is the only GB curler, male or female, in Beijing who has any previous Olympic experience and so it is inevitable she will be relied upon for guidance and leadership when they begin their campaign in the early hours of tomorrow morning. 

Having long been not only skip of her rink but also the most recognised face in her sport in this country, Muirhead is no stranger to such a role and so while she is comfortable showing her teammates the ropes where need be, she is also confident they will manage just fine by themselves on the biggest stage of all. 

“The Olympics is something different from everything else you could ever compete in. You could play every single other event on the tour and it’s not the same as the Olympic Games; it’s an event that you just can’t buy that experience in terms of being a part of Team GB,” she says. 

“Having said that though, I really believe the team is ready for this and we know what’s ahead of us 

“They’ll, I’m sure, have a lot of nerves and a lot of excitement but that’s the same for me too. 

“Even though I’ve been to a few Olympic Games, you still get the nerves, it’s not like this becomes second nature so we’ll all be dealing with those feelings. We’ll be ready though.”