“My demeanour’s very different on the ice to off it. Off the ice I don't take life too seriously, but when I'm on the ice you'll see that I've got a bit of a poker face and I don't tend to show much emotion”.
British curler Bruce Mouat has honed the iceman persona, and his steely determination in competition has made him one of Team GB’s best shots of a medal - or even two - going into the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The 27-year-old was among the first athletes selected to go to the Games in China, as a world champion in the mixed doubles with childhood friend Jen Dodds, and as a world silver medallist with his ever-improving men’s rink.
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Mouat has been curling since he was seven, working his way up the ranks, inspired by the likes of Rhona Martin and Eve Muirhead - who is just four years older than him but has already appeared at three Olympics. This will be Mouat’s debut Games, but he approaches it as a curler to be feared, at the top of his game and as one of the world’s best.
Part of the success of the men’s team has been down to a positive experience during the coronavirus restrictions. At the World Championships earlier this year, the team had to stay in an intense bubble in Calgary for well over a month - team spirit could have gone either way, but it worked out well for the rink, which will transfer its kit from Scotland to Team GB.
“The guys and I have been working very hard for the last four years since we put the team together in 2017, and we've had a lot of success,” Mouat told Eurosport.
“We obviously went to the Europeans in 2018 for the first time, and we were able to win that and then we've been to World Championships twice and medalled there. We know that the Olympics is going to be a really tough event for us but we've proven that we've gone to events for the first time and had success, and I don't see why we can't when we get into the Olympics.
Calgary was 35 days in a hotel. We were just going to the ice rink and that was pretty much the only place where we were allowed to go. It really brings you together, you really have to rely on those guys to be close to you and to give you that support.
“It's made us a really good unit and it's just exciting not only for me to be wearing this kit, but seeing them in the kit as well it makes me really happy that they are coming along on this journey with me.”
The Olympics will always be a life changing experience for any athlete, but for Mouat, it will have extra meaning when he links up with Dodds in the mixed competition. The pair have known each other since they were young and they are a natural pairing. Dodds and the women’s rink are yet to secure their place at the Games, but Mouat knows for sure that he will be linking up with her in Beijing.
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“It's very special to be going to an Olympics, but to be going to an Olympics with a friend like Jen is going to be a great opportunity for both of us,” said Mouat.
“She's obviously a very talented athlete, and to be in a team with her it's going to be a great opportunity for both of us to go out there and to do well.”
Scotland’s curlers have captivated British audiences at the Winter Olympics since Martin claimed gold almost 20 years ago. Mouat recognises that there is a certain stereotype of ‘bowls on ice’ around it, but he says the sport is physically demanding and is evolving all of the time.
“People seem to think of curling as being an older person’s sport, but I think we're proving that a lot of younger people are coming through the system and having great successes.
“We’re really excited to see what can come off the back of the Olympics this year because I know the public loves to watch curling when the Games come around. To be a part of that and to hopefully encourage participation in not only our sport, but sport in general, it's a great opportunity for us to create a better or more exciting curling brand.”
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