Versatile Vicky Wright revelled in securing a “magical” Winter Olympic debut but here she reveals the most daunting challenge facing her between now and Beijing – Christmas Dinner.
Forfar curler Wright was officially selected in Team GB’s five-strong women’s curling team after helping Eve Muirhead’s Scottish rink secure a qualifying spot in the Netherlands this month. Wright, Muirhead, Jennifer Dodds and Hailey Duff – all selected for the Games alongside alternate Mili Smith – racked up five consecutive triumphs to bounce back from a slow start and follow up November’s European hegemony in Lillehammer.
Wright juggles her curling career alongside working as a staff nurse at Forth Valley Hospital and when the coronavirus pandemic struck she put her sporting career on hold to join the front line. Curling and combatting Covid is a complex combination but Wright, who trains at Leswalt Curling Club, lifts the lid on the alternative festive obstacle currently dominating her thoughts.
Asked what she is most nervous about after booking her Beijing spot, Wright says: “Cooking Christmas Dinner! I’m working on Christmas Eve but am off on Christmas Day, so it will be nice to spend some time with the family.
“But we’re hosting Christmas this year – so that will be entertaining. I’ve never really cooked Christmas Dinner before – but here we go. I’m very excited and it’s such a magical day to finally be announced. After everything we’ve been through, to get here and get the job done is brilliant.
“With work in the NHS and Covid, it’s very much a case of me getting the best of both worlds. I get to play Olympic sport and I get to work as well – it’s a dream to do both.”
Curling is known as “chess on ice”, and Wright is acutely aware of the amplified spotlight that will be on the sport when she and the team descend on the Chinese capital in February.
Rhona Martin’s storied “Stone of Destiny” in Salt Lake City in 2002 propelled Great Britain to their first Winter Olympic gold medal since Sarajevo 1984 and, ever since, the sport has held a cherished national status whenever the Games roll around.
Wright insists she’s relishing that attention, and the Dumfries ace, one of more than 1,000 athletes who are able to train full time, has access to the world’s best coaches, and benefits from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding. She says: “You’ve just got to embrace it and enjoy it.
“The Winter Olympics are a once in a lifetime opportunity, and you’ve got to try and take every moment as it comes and really cherish it. Once you step on ice, your nerves seem to go a bit more as you’re in control. It’s almost worse watching. But we’ll see how we go at the Olympics.”
Muirhead’s resurgent rink capped a European Championship to savour as a 7-4 victory over Olympic champions Sweden hauled them to glory in Norway. A nervy Olympic qualifying event in Holland then followed but after losing their first two matches, the Scots refound their Lillehammer form to construct that unbeaten run and secure their seat on the plane.
Turkey’s triumph over Japan ensured Muirhead’s team would join Bruce Mouat’s men in Beijing, and Wright, who will be bidding to add to the 1,000-plus medals achieved by British athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding to elite sport in 1997 in China, says: “We’re in really good form just now and we don’t want to disrupt it.
“I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. We’re training really well and need to keep going on the ice and keep our heads down. We’ve all worked really hard to get here – it’s been a challenging season, but we’re in good stead now and we just need to keep supporting each other and keep working together.”
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