Canadian curler Lawes draws strength for dad's memory

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes delivers a stone during their women's curling round robin game against Great...

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes delivers a stone during their women's curling round robin game against Great Britain during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Feb. 12, 2014. (INTS KALNINS/Reuters)

TED WYMAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:47 PM ET

SOCHI, RUSSIA - Even now, some seven years later, tears still well up in her eyes every time she talks about the man who set her on this path to curling greatness.

Kaitlyn Lawes takes a moment to compose herself and opens up, recalling a person who she lists as her inspiration in her Canadian Olympic Team biography.

Her father, Keith, passed away when she was just a teenager trying to make a name for herself in the curling world.

Now that she has reached the pinnacle -- she's an Olympian as third for the Jennifer Jones foursome from Winnipeg -- Lawes can't help but think how proud her dad would have been.

"He died in 2007 when I was 18 but he was a big part of my journey my whole life up until then," Lawes said after her team's 9-6 win over Great Britain that gave them a 3-0 record in the Olympic curling tournament on Wednesday.

"I still think about him all the time and I know that he'd be so proud. It's hard not to have him here because he was my biggest fan."

Lawes, 25, has developed into one of the best thirds in women's curling. She's a big reason why Jones finally qualified for an Olympics, after many years of trying.

And why wouldn't she have become an elite curler?

After all, her dad saw to it that she started playing the game at the age of two.

"She started curling when she was small enough to fit on a curling rock and he would push her down the ice," teammate Dawn McEwen said.

Lawes said her dad was so into the game that she just wanted to follow him around everywhere he went.

"We spent hours and hours and hours at the curling club," she said. "He really taught me a lot of what I know. I was on the curling ice before I could walk."

Her mom, Cheryl, is in Sochi for the Olympics and is always in the stands for her daughter's games.

"I make sure to look up at her every game and she always gives me a little 'I love you' symbol and I know she's always there for us," Lawes said.

On Wednesday, Lawes had a tough moment in Canada's lone game against defending world champion Eve Muirhead. She was looking to make at least a double takeout in the 10th end but missed everything, putting Great Britain in position to win the game.

Fortunately for Canada, they wriggled out of the jam and Lawes' mistake was not costly. Even if it were, it would have been a rarity.

"She's outstanding," skip Jennifer Jones said. "She's a great teammate and the reason she feels bad is because she doesn't want to leave me in a tough spot. She's an all-around great person and she has every single shot. She can throw it as hard as anyone, she has the finesse shots, she's great for confidence and she really stands behind me and has my back."

The unbeaten Canadians have two games Thursday, including one against former world champion and two-time Olympic medallist Mirjam Ott of Switzerland, who was also 3-0 through Wednesday's games.

Click to enlarge and open in new window

Videos

Photos