THERE will be no bigger name in the curling arena at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang than Glenn Howard, the 2012 world champion.

With a world ranking still higher than half of those taking part in the men’s event, the 55-year-old father of two’s unique career has seen him win that world title in four different decades. First was as a 24-year-old in 1987, and then six years later; the third came after a 14-year wait while his children were growing up, and then most recently, six years ago.

Yet he has never competed in an Olympic Games and still will not throw a stone in anger over the next fortnight. Instead he is operating in the role he took on 18 months ago as technical coach of the outstanding British women’s rink Team Muirhead.

The quartet of women in their 20s have among them vast experience of the Olympic arena – with Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Lauren Gray, the team’s alternate in Sochi, all having claimed bronze medals, while this year’s alternate, Kelly Schafer, has also previously taken part in a Games – making their working relationship very much a two-way street.

“It keeps everything fresh,” said the likeable man from the marvellously named town of Tiny, Ontario. “I’ve got a wealth of experience of curling for 45 years and been there done that, I just haven’t had the Olympic experience, so when it comes to the curling I’ve got a wealth of knowledge, but I’ve been asking tons of questions about the Olympics, so they’re feeding me all this information that I need to know and it’s kinda cool.

“I love the fact it’s a two-way thing and they are finding it interesting that they’re helping me and I’m like a sponge too. It goes to show you the great relationship we already have. There’s complete mutual respect. I feel it from them and I definitely give them the respect. Them helping me just shows that.

“It’s not as if I’m walking in there and I’m the be all and end all. No… I’m the newbie, I’m the Olympic virgin going in and they’re helping me out. It’s a two-way street and it’s working nicely so far.”

He also believes his inability to win “The Roar of the Rings”, the fiercely contested qualifying competition in the world’s leading curling nation, helps offer perspective to a team who are so dominant in Scotland that they could make the mistake of taking this opportunity for granted when they begin on Wednesday.

“I’m a big fan, I’ve watched every Olympic Games since curling’s introduction and I feel like I’m a big part of that, even though I’ve never physically been to an Olympics and never participated.

“I’ve been to every trials in Canada, been close a few times, just couldn’t win that final game unfortunately,” he said. “So, getting to an Olympics any time you should be proud of it and you should treat every one as if it’s your last, because there’s no guarantees in life, no guarantee you’re going to get back. This’ll be Evie’s third, the rest of the girls’ second. It’s Lauren’s first on the ice, but she’s experienced it, so she’s been what I call inside the ropes.”

Newly appointed when the team went unbeaten through the round-robin stage of the European Championships at Braehead last season, only to be beaten in the semi-finals, Howard believes he has seen a huge improvement since then.

“At the Europeans last year we were nine and zero going into the play-offs and this year we were seven and two and I would have taken seven and two hands down, regardless of the outcome, because everything was better,” he said.

“They were following the processes, the team dynamics were better, their technique was better. Their record wasn’t, but they were in a much better place, you could feel it. They ended up winning the gold medal this time, but whether they did that or not we didn’t care, everything was in place, but it was really nice because winning’s fun.

“We could then have a nice little break, that was the plan for Christmas and then all January was about tweaking and the girls are exactly where I want ’em to be.”