Elise Christie says Winter Olympic failures will not ‘define’ her

XXIII Olympic Winter Games
Venue: Pyeongchang, South Korea Dates: 9-25 February
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and mobile app. Full coverage times

British skater Elise Christie says her Winter Olympic failures do not “define” her and she will come back stronger at the next Games in Beijing.

The triple world champion, 27, fell in the 500m final and 1500m short track semi-finals, and was disqualified from the 1,000m heats in Pyeongchang.

Scot Christie was disqualified from her three events in Sochi four years ago.

“I was so focused on the gold [in the 1500m] that maybe I did make some bad judgement calls,” she told BBC Sport.

“There’s a lot to move forward on, but at the same time, I won’t define myself on what has happened.”

In a wide-ranging interview, triple world champion Christie said she:

  • Finds the Olympics less stressful than the World Championships
  • Had “no regrets” about racing in the 1,000m
  • Would like to compete in both long track and short track at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
  • Will miss the 2018 World Championships as she continues to recover from ligament damage to her ankle

Christie said her comments after the 1,000m – that she would compete in Beijing – were initially a “spur of the moment thing”.

“Actually I had been thinking about retiring, but it just came out, and then I knew I was going to keep going,” she said.

“I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t mean it. I want to do long track and short track events, which probably means sacrificing one of the short track events, but that’s OK.”

‘Worst coincidence on the planet’

Christie made her Olympic debut in Vancouver eight years ago but was considered a serious medal contender by 2014, when she arrived in Sochi as a double European champion.

Following three disqualifications, Christie received abuse and death threats on social media before deleting her social media account.

Christie said she is “not in the same place” as four years ago, and that fans online and competitors had been supportive following her struggles in South Korea.

“I’ve not not been successful, have I? I finished fourth place. Is that bad? How many people finish fourth in an Olympic Games in short track?” she said.

“It’s not about it being at the Olympics at all. If anything, I find the Olympics much less stressful than a World Championship, because there you have back-to-back racing for three days straight.

“It’s just literally the worst coincidence in the planet. As everyone says, you couldn’t have scripted it – it’s coincidence.”

Injury rules Christie out of Worlds

Christie was carried off the ice on a stretcher and taken to hospital after crashing out of her 1500m semi-final.

A scan showed she damaged ligaments in her right ankle and doctors told her she would need four to six weeks off the ice, but she competed in the 1,000m heats three days later.

She finished second after her fall on the first lap of the heat led to a restart, but was disqualified moments later.

“Qualifying to a quarter-final at an Olympic Games with ligament damage which you shouldn’t even be walking on was the most insane feeling,” Christie said.

“It would have been easier and a lot less painful [to not race] and I didn’t think I was going to make it on. I couldn’t even walk.

“I’ve been in quite a lot of pain. My ankle is massive. It’s got bigger since I raced and had the fall.”

She said the injury would rule her out of the World Championships in Montreal, which run from 16-18 March.

Christie ‘owes it to short track’ to carry on

Christie considered switching sports after the 2014 Olympics, telling the Telegraph she considered taking up track cycling after being left “broken” by Sochi.

BBC commentator and former world champion Wilf O’Reilly said switching sports would allow Christie to train without the “stresses” of short track.

“Cycling was always one of my dreams,” Christie told BBC Radio 5 live.

“Unfortunately, with not winning a medal here, I doubt that’s a journey I’m going to go on now.

“People are watching me for short track and that’s what people have backed me for. I owe it to short track.”

Great Britain short track performance director Stewart Laing has backed Christie to compete at the next Games, saying she had “huge potential”.

Christie added: “I don’t know how many gold medals I’ve picked up since Sochi. This doesn’t define me just because it’s the thing that’s broadcast everywhere.

“The people who really matter know that. UK Sport has backed me the whole way through, as has most of the media and the British public.”


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