Eve Muirhead: “It makes you realise that this is it, you’re at the big one - the Olympic Games.”
Eve Muirhead represented Team GB at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games, winning curling bronze in 2014.
2010 was my first Olympic Winter Games and I have to admit that it was a really tough decision for my curling team-mates and I whether or not we should go to the Opening Ceremony. We knew that there would be quite a lot of waiting around and that it can be quite tiring so even when we arrived in Vancouver, we still weren’t sure what to do. Some other athletes weren’t going because they were competing very soon afterwards and that really made us wonder about what we should do. But our team had a chat and we realised that it wasn’t going to impact our performance at the Games so we made the decision to attend and I’m so glad that I did.
I remember the waiting - as the teams were getting ready to march into the stadium, we all had to wait for quite a few hours in a tunnel underneath the stadium but it actually, it was really fun - there was a fantastic atmosphere and it was really exciting. What’s great about the opening ceremony for the Winter Games is that it’s the one opportunity you get to see all of the athletes who are staying in the Athletes’ Village up in the mountains so that’s really nice. And with the Vancouver Games being my first Olympics, I remember being really excited about seeing a lot of famous faces that I’d only ever seen on television before. You recognise all of these superstars and so it’s really strange to be standing right next to them.
Walking out into the stadium in Vancouver was just unbelievable, there’s no other way to describe it. It’s hard to explain what it actually feels like. It puts shivers right through your body and that really kick-starts the Olympics. In the lead-up to the opening ceremony, it doesn’t really feel like you’re at the Olympic Games but as soon as you go to the opening ceremony, it all becomes real. An Olympic opening ceremony is completely unlike the opening ceremonies for the World Championships or European Championships so being there and feeling the atmosphere really makes you realise that this is it, you’re at the big one - the Olympic Games.
You don’t realise at the time how many millions of people are watching on television - it’s only afterwards when so many people mention that they saw you in the parade that you remember quite how massive the audience is so that’s pretty crazy. The opening ceremony gives you a real boost which I’ve never felt anywhere else. But having said that, you have to be really careful that you don’t get carried away with the whole fairy tale of it and you have to make sure that by the next day, you’ve got your head back down and you’re focused on your competition starting.
Having been to the Opening Ceremony in Vancouver really helped me four years later in Sochi because I knew that it would energise me. The only thing the Opening Ceremony did to my performance was give it a boost because it gives you that special feeling that you’re at the Olympics. In Sochi, I was able to relax and appreciate the Opening Ceremony even more than I had been able to four years before because that time I knew what to expect. That 30-or-so seconds of walking in is just an unbelievable experience - you could never buy that feeling so you just have to savour every second of it. It’s hard to actually remember specific moments of the Ceremony because it all goes into a blur and I think that just highlights what an extraordinary few hours it is.
The Closing Ceremony in Vancouver in 2010 was really fun because there was loads of great music acts playing like Michael Bublé and Nickelback but to be able to go to the Closing Ceremony four years later in Sochi as an Olympic medallist was just amazing. I couldn’t even tell you who was playing or what happened at the Closing Ceremony in Sochi because it was so exciting that I barely took anything in. Going to the Closing Ceremony having won a medal just finishes off a great couple of weeks perfectly. I know that some people wear their medals to the Closing Ceremony but I didn’t - I definitely didn’t want to lose it so I didn’t risk it having it with me. Team GB had done really well at the 2014 Games so the mood amongst the team was great and for me and the four other girls in my curling team, that Closing Ceremony was the first time in almost four years that we were able to fully relax. We’d spent so many hours training together with the Olympic Games being our end goal that it was so great to be able to celebrate our success together and just let our hair down and have a great party.