DAVID MURDOCH ENDS COMPETITIVE CAREER ON HIGH AS HE ANNOUNCES NEW COACHING CAREER
Olympic silver medallist David Murdoch has decided to call time on his competitive curling career and will now join the coaching ranks at British Curling, the programme that has also supported his successful pursuit of seven national, three European and two world titles.
The 39 year old skip will now utilise his skills and experience gleaned at the very top of the game as he switches his focus to coaching the next generation of curlers.
Murdoch admitted he was still feeling disappointed about the recent decision that means he would not be heading for his fourth Olympic Games in South Korea next year. He has however stated that he is ready to embark on the next exciting step as British Curling Consultant Coach, a new role starting this month, which will cover all aspects of technical and tactical coaching.
“After the announcement regarding PyeongChang I had to think about what would come next. I had always wanted to pursue my coaching and management ambitions and now I feel ready for that.”
British Curling Performance Director Graeme Thompson paid tribute to the most successful GB skip in the men’s game and is delighted to have Murdoch joining his team. Thompson said: “David has had a tremendous career with his successes spanning several decades and includes all the major honours possible. I am delighted that he will continue to inspire the curlers coming through the programme.
“I have enjoyed working closely with David as a player and am very pleased to continue that as a colleague. His expertise and knowledge contributing into our staff structure will be very valuable and overall he will be playing a vital part in developing the future of the game.”
Murdoch has had experience of working with the sport having enjoyed a role on the athlete commission with the World Curling Federation (WCF).
“Given my involvement with WCF, the non-athlete side of curling has become much more appealing. I have had to re-adjust, as my goal was to get to the next Olympics and I really had to decide if it was the end or not. To be honest I am not sure if things had been different if I would have known when the right time was to stop. It would have been hard to walk away but I have been thinking about alternative options for some time and you have to eventually make the decision to start getting those plans underway.
“It was a tough decision but at the same time I am incredibly grateful for what I have achieved in the sport, the opportunities it has given me and the titles I have won.
“Looking back when I won the World Junior Championships I remember wishing I could one day be a national champion. In some ways I have achieved far more than I ever dreamed of, going on to win national, European and World titles. For me there were no regrets there, I had lots of great experiences and life lessons and I have made amazing friends all around the world, from fans, coaches, team mates and opponents. I especially want to thank my team mates, support staff and coaches for their incredible dedication and of course my wife Stephanie and my family, which made every success possible.
“The hard work and the sacrifices were worth it to enjoy every minute accomplishing those sporting achievements and that would have not been possible for me without the investment from the National Lottery, UK Sport and sportscotland.”
Murdoch and then team mate Euan Byers were the first full time curlers in the UK and possibly in the world. Byers was to become his longest standing team mate, competing with Murdoch from 2000 to 2010.
Murdoch believes that the turning point in their careers can only be attributed to one person, Mike Hay, who was at that time Performance Director for Curling at the Sportscotland Institute of Sport.
“Mike gave our team our big break. He funded two trips to Canada and Sweden and that international experience gave us our break on to the world stage. His commitment and belief in us resulted in us winning the Scottish Championships and then going on to beat Peja Lindholm in the final of the European Championships in 2003.”
Murdoch went on to win the European Championships on two more occasions after that and two world titles before Hay moved on to the British Olympic Association.
Hay who is now Team GB Chef de Mission for PyeongChang 2018 said: “David pioneered full time curling in Great Britain and his combination of drive and ambition has helped him achieve unprecedented World and Olympic success. I wish him all the very best as he retires as one of Scotland’s greatest ever skips and I have no doubt he will prove to be an inspirational leader as he begins his coaching career where he will continue to improve the game for our next generation of athletes.”
Just missing out on a podium place in 2006, finishing fourth at the Olympic Games in Turin, then a fifth place finish at the Vancouver Games meant there was still something missing from the medal cupboard. It was to be another four years before David and his team mates Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow and Tom Brewster secured their silver medal in Sochi in 2014, the pinnacle of the men’s game to date.
“That Olympic medal was for every team member I have ever played with, from the early years right up to when I was the oldest member of my team. That success only happens when every member of the team and support team pulls together and has the same level of dedication to be better, be stronger and improve in any way possible.”
It was that level of commitment and passion that saw him lend his weight to the campaign for a National Curling Academy based in his new home of Stirling. Knowing what is at stake in order to reach the upper echelons of the game, Murdoch was determined that there should be no further delay in getting access to world class curling facilities, albeit he knew he would not be a long term beneficiary as a player .
“It was important to the development of the game in this country to have a facility of this type to stay with the cutting edge curve of this sport and where it is going. Without this level of investment you cannot compete on equal terms with countries like Canada, US and also Asia now that the sport has seen a huge rise in investment in that area. If we want to be global contenders and better still leaders in the game we have to give our next crop of curlers a fighting chance and that is why it is so important to me.
“There are exciting times ahead with the national centre where curlers can come and achieve better things. I am a bit sad that I won’t be training there but I will be coaching and learning at the same time and I have high ambitions for where I want to go in this sport in a new direction now and this facility will benefit everyone involved in the game.”
Photographs: Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart