British Curling boss Nigel Holl hopes to grow sport after Olympic medals

Great Britain’s Mili Smith, Hailey Duff, Jennifer Dodds, Vicky Wright and Eve Muirhead celebrate curling gold medal success at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
Great Britain’s Mili Smith, Hailey Duff, Jennifer Dodds, Vicky Wright and Eve Muirhead celebrate curling gold medal success at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

British Curling boss Nigel Holl hopes Winter Olympics success will launch a revolution in the sport and provide more golden days like the one enjoyed at Beijing 2022.

Eve Muirhead’s team added to the men’s silver won by Bruce Mouat and company to claim Great Britain first curling gold medal since Rhona Martin’s famous triumph in 2002.

But Holl, the Team GB performance director for curling and British Curling executive performance director, insists action must be taken now to ensure it is not another two decades before British curlers are on top of the Olympic podium again.

“We have got to do something differently to what we did back then,” Holl said after Muirhead, Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds and Hailey Duff, plus alternate Mili Smith, won Britain’s first gold medal on the final day of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“We are hearing, and it is quite hard to tell from Beijing, that the country has totally switched on to curling and loving it.

“My plea to ice rink owners across the UK is buy some curling stones, put some curling sheets down, give people the opportunity to try the game.

“It is a sport for everybody from eight to 80 genuinely. It is an incredible social sport and superb at elite level as well.

My plea to ice rink owners across the UK is buy some curling stones, put some curling sheets down, give people the opportunity to try the game

Nigel Holl, Team GB performance director for curling

“Facilities across the UK should wake up, seize the opportunity and my plea to facility operators, organisations like Sport England, Sport Scotland and Sport Wales, is to invest in curling facilities.

“There are something like about 28 specialised rinks in Scotland and there are three operating at the moment for curling in England – Tunbridge Wells, Preston, Cambridge. We need to spread that.

“It is a sport for everybody, and we have proven it is a sport that GB can and will do very well at in the future.”

Team GB would have suffered a Beijing medal wash-out but for the performances of their world-class curlers.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

The men’s team of skip Mouat, Hammy McMillan, Bobby Lammie, Grant Hardie and alternate Ross Whyte claimed silver after being edged out 5-4 by Sweden in the Olympic final.

Holl said: “The biggest difference is we have a dedicated centre, the national curling academy in Stirling and we have got some fantastic coaches and support staff across a range of disciplines.

“We have built a culture of excellence in the last couple of years and Covid has actually helped us do. The players have bought into that change.

“It isn’t just a building where there is ice. They are full-time athletes there from 8am until late afternoon.

“They have got incredible support around them, technology, data, video, performance analysis.

“We are creating a very special environment and that helps us for the future going forward.

“The younger players following behind the guys are getting the benefit of it now.

“Watch out for the future. This is only the start.”