Stirling graduates win gold at Winter Olympics

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Mili Smith, Team GB curler
Stirling sports scholar Mili Smith won gold as alternate in the Team GB curling team.

University of Stirling graduates Mili Smith and Hailey Duff, and honorary graduate Eve Muirhead, have won gold in curling at the Winter Olympics.

Alongside Team GB teammates Vicky Wright and Jen Dodds, they won 10-3 in Sunday morning’s women's final against Japan at the Ice Cube in Beijing.

The gold medal followed the silver won by Team GB’s men - comprising current Stirling sports scholar Ross Whyte and recent graduate Bobby Lammie - on Saturday morning. The team narrowly missed out on gold after a hard fought encounter with Sweden, losing 5-4.

The gold and silver are the only medals won by Team GB at the Winter Olympics.

Speaking after Sunday’s win, team skip Muirhead - who received an honorary degree from Stirling in 2018 - said: "It's a dream come true. We are Olympic champions. It's such a special moment."

Muirhead also paid tribute to Duff, a 2019 Business and Finance graduate, and alternate Smith, a sports scholar who graduated with a BA Psychology last year.

Muirhead said: “Hailey is new to this team – she came from not even the podium programme and here she is at the Olympic Games. She is a phenomenal curler with so much talent, and I can see her back on the podium.

“Mili has been such a great asset to this team. People don’t see it but the work Mili puts in when it comes to helping us match stones, working beside the coaches – if that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be here.”

Eve Muirhead

Eve Muirhead received an honorary doctorate from the University of Stirling in 2018.

The gold medal in curling is Team GB's first since Rhona Martin’s historic triumph in 2002.

Team Muirhead were ruthless in the final - they executed two in the opening end and were 4-1 up after five of the 10 scheduled ends.

In a one-sided affair, they took four in the seventh to effectively seal gold before confirming the win with two in the ninth end - forcing Japan to concede defeat one end early.

Duff said: "You hope you can close out the game but you always have to really focus, and that's what we did. I don't know what's happened!"

Curlers Ross Whyte and Bobby Lammie pictured alongside Cathy Gallagher and David Bond, of University of Stirling Sport

David Bond (left), Head of Performance Sport at the University, and Cathy Gallagher (right), Executive Director of Sport, pictured alongside silver medallists Ross Whyte (centre left) and Bobby Lammie (centre right).

Cathy Gallagher, Executive Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, said: "I am absolutely delighted to see Team GB's curlers win gold and silver medals with incredible performances in Beijing.

"It was a special moment for our sports scholars Mili, Ross and Bobby to be selected for the Games - so to see them come home with a medal, after witnessing first-hand the amount of hard work they put in on a daily basis, is fantastic. We are incredibly proud of their achievements and those of Stirling graduate Hailey and honorary graduate Eve - we send both teams our warmest congratulations.

"The ongoing success of Stirling athletes at major, international competitions reflects the comprehensive high-performance sports scholarship that the University has in place, as well as the effective partnerships with governing bodies, including British Curling."

The success comes just months after six University of Stirling athletes travelled to last summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo – returning with five medals. Duncan Scott made history by winning a record four medals to become the most successful British Olympian at a single Games, while fellow Stirling swimmer Kathleen Dawson won gold in the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay. Both athletes were made Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year Honours list, in recognition of their success.

The Team GB swim team in Tokyo also included Stirling’s Ross Murdoch, Aimee Willmott and Cassie Wild, while fellow sports scholar Gabriella Wood became the first woman – and second person ever – to represent Trinidad and Tobago in judo at the Olympics. Stirling student Ben Rowlings also competed in Japan – representing Team GB in wheelchair racing at the Paralympics.

The University of Stirling is Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, and its performance programmes offer world-class coaching, training, competition, and funding support to athletes – enabling them to excel in their sport while studying.

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