By Neil Leverett
- Elise Christie’s Winter Olympics over after disqualification in the 1000m short-track heats
- Ailing Briton finished second in heat despite injury, but subsequently penalised twice for infringement and yellow carded
- XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea run until February 25
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA – After suffering a third dose of Winter Olympic woe in the 1000m heats of the Short-Track Speed Skating, Great Britain’s Elise Christie vows to return in four years time in Beijing.
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Plucky Christie vows to return in China
Elise Christie has vowed that the 2018 Winter Olympics will not be her last after the Briton almost incomprehensibly suffered yet more Olympic heartache in the Women’s 1000m Short-Track Speed Skating heats on Tuesday in PyeongChang.
After crashing out for the second time in South Korea during Saturday’s 1500m semi-finals, the 27-year-old Scot battled through the pain of ligament damage and and four years – and five races – of torment to line up in her 1000m heat.
Despite stumbling on Hungarian skater Andrea Keszler’s skate at the gun – further injuring her ankle – Christie got up again for the restart and finished second in a tight right from the back on the field – visibly not at full fitness – only to be handed a double penalty and yellow card after coach Nicky Gooch had carried her off the ice.
It rounds off another nightmarish Olympic experience for the Nottingham skater and current triple World champion who could now be set for a lengthy spell out with injury, unable to defend her three titles in Montreal, Canada next month.
Ailing Brit steels herself
Having had less than 72 hours to recover from an injury that under normal circumstances may have ruled any other athlete absent for close to two months, Christie bucked the odds to line up for her heat of the 1000m.
With the finals two days later, the Nottingham-based skater just had to finish in the top two to secure her place in the quarter-finals later in the week.
As the starter’s gun went at the Gangneung Ice Arena, all eyes were on the Brit and particular her footing. As the skaters raced for the first bend however, Christie caught the skate of Keszler and stumbled to the deck.
The race commissaires halted the competition, but as the Briton limped to the barriers it seemed her Olympics could end prematurely. Christie was cleared determined to carry on and again lined up for restart.
Racing from the back all was clearly not well for the Scot but bided her time with nine laps to get into the mix. Trailing with three laps to go, Christie then made a patented take on the inside, but was closed by both Keszler and the Pole Magdalena Warakomska.
Desperate – and bloody-minded – to progress and keep her dreams alive, the world champion again dove for inside lane to gain a place and snuck in to take second place behind Lara Van Ruijven – but whilst making contact with both her competitors.
Finishing second, the judges who had a busy morning of video referrals again convened to hand down their final decision. As Christie was carried off the ice, it was deemed the Brit had infringed twice within the course of the race and was a handed a yellow card.
Briton fights through the tears
Having again fallen foul of the race stewards, Christie’s Games had also ended in tears but to her credit came out to face the music within minutes. And the Briton had already switched her focus to Beijing 2022 in four years time.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Christie was philosophical of another difficult and heart-rending Olympic experience but remained bullish:
“A few days ago I didn’t think I’d be getting on the ice. We did everything we could to turn this around. It just wasn’t meant to be. If it was any other race I’d have been off the ice for 5-6 weeks…Yeah…it’s done.”
“The I only thing I can say is that I promise I’ll come back from this and I will come back for Beijing.”
As Christie looks back on another roller-coaster fortnight of competition, the hope now is that no lasting damage has been sustained to her ankle. However, with the World Championships less than a month away in Canada, the chance to defend her three titles may now be robbed of the plucky Brit.
The ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships take place in Montreal, Canada between the 16th and 18th of March.
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