With a disappointing Winter Olympics for Team GB, the Scots gave us something to shout about.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics was certainly an interesting event, with the build up marred with controversy. Whether it was the international condemnation of China’s treatment of the Uyghur people, with the USA threatening to withdraw their team from the games completely, to the bizarre realisation that Beijing had to generate or import all of the snow needed for the games, there was a significant lack of focus on the games themselves and particularly the athletes competing.
This year Team GB is the smallest it’s ever been, with only 50 athletes competing in Beijing this year, and of course the Scots feature prominently, not necessarily in numbers but definitely in talent.
Athletes from Scotland put in impressive performances on skis. Edinburgh born Charlie Guest finished 21st in the final heat of the women’s slalom while Team GB’s youngest athlete, 17-year-old Kirsty Muir from Aberdeen, finished eighth in the women’s slopestyle and an impressive fifth in the women’s big air – an incredible debut for such a young athlete. It was a stressful build-up to the games for cross-country skier Andrew Young, who tested positive for Covid-19 just a month before the games were due to begin, putting his participation on thin ice. Fortunately, he was well enough to compete, however, finished 56 seconds shy of a shot in the final, but still an amazing achievement considering.
Another story, unfortunately, unfolded on the ice as disaster struck for Natasha McKay when she fell during her performance in the women’s figure skating, finishing 28th with a score of 52.54. Short track speed skating hopeful Kathryn Thomson also had a difficult Games, failing to progress further than the heats of both the 500m and the 1,000m races, before eventually pulling out of the 1,500m completely due to health concerns. A better performance came from figure skater Lewis Gibson, one half of the pairs skating team, who finished a respectable 10th.
The stars of the show were undoubtedly the Team GB curling teams, made up entirely of Scottish athletes, who won the only two medals of the games. After narrowly missing out on a podium position in the mixed doubles event, the men’s team, skipped by Edinburgh born Bruce Mouat, guaranteed the first medal for the team when they beat the Americans in the semi-finals. Despite narrowly falling short to Sweden in the final, the silver medal is an incredible achievement for the close-knit team consisting of Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammy and Hammy McMillan Jr. and alternate Ross Whyte.
All eyes (if you stayed up past midnight) were on the women’s final, as we saw skip Eve Muirhead lead her team to a solid victory over Japan, securing Team GB’s only gold medal of the games. An incredible four in the seventh end dramatically secured the win, leaving Japan extinguished and just waiting for the game to be over. A particularly special win for Muirhead, which comes after reaching the semi-finals twice before and falling short, with a bronze medal win back in 2014. Her team of Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds, Hailey Duff and alternate Milli Smith, produced a performance that will be remembered for a long time. The success of the two curling teams cements the British (or more accurately Scottish) teams’ dominance in the sport.
Overall, Team GB had a disappointing Games as the target of seven medals remained very distant throughout. However, it was the Scots who ensured that Team GB didn’t return empty-handed in what will be an Olympics in the history books for British Curling.