Christie’s Olympics agony is complete after failing to qualify in her last event

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Elise Christie crashed and burned in spectacular fashion in Pyeongchang on Tuesday after a first-bend crash and what was effectively a double disqualification, but she insisted her Olympic dream is far from over.

The 27-year-old’s desperate bid to make the start-line for her final and favoured 1000m event back-fired when a trip-up in the opening strides of her heat sent her flailing to the ice and re-aggravated the ankle ligaments she had torn in her equally distressing 1500m exit on Saturday night.

Clearly in some degree of discomfort and in no real position to continue to compete, Christie nevertheless dragged herself back to the line in time to benefit from the short track rule which stipulates that first-corner crashes must lead to a re-start.

Unable to put any real pressure on her injured ankle, Christie set off well behind her three rivals but still battled through to cross the line in a qualifying position of second, only to be given a yellow card from the race jury – indicating not one but two fouls – and eliminated from the Games.

“It’s been such a tough two days to turn this around, I’ve got ligament damage and my ankle has doubled in size,” said Christie. “I gave it my best shot and I obviously had a crash at the start.

“I hit my ankle and at that point I thought, ‘oh no, that’s over, I’m not going to be able to race now’. I can’t describe the pain I was in.

Elise Christie
Elise Christie suffered more Olympic woe on Saturday (David Davies/PA)

“But I was given a moment to stand there and I was thinking about everyone watching back home. I just felt I should give it a go for them.”

Yet even in the immediate aftermath of another Olympics calamity, Christie committed herself to a fourth shot at the Olympics in Beijing in four years’ time, maintaining nothing that happened in Pyeongchang would dissuade her from pursuing that golden career goal.

“For all the success I’ve had, I can’t let this define me. I can’t even count on two hands how many gold medals I’ve won since Sochi. I’m the world record holder.

“That’s why I’ll be back in Beijing (in 2022). I wanted to try another sport but I’ll commit to this one a bit longer. It sucks but that’s it now.”

“I’m going to get myself so strong that I’ll get out in front and get away from everyone and that will be the focus now.”

Christie’s participation in her third and final event had been in doubt until moments before the start, but she battled gamely to make the most of her second chance despite being uncharacteristically forced to fight from the rear.

On her way through she had what appeared to be minor skirmishes with Holland’s Lara van Ruijven and Hungary’s Andrea Keszler before barging across the line, but there was an air of inevitability during the few minutes before the judges’ verdict – and Christie’s latest disqualification – was confirmed.

Elise Christie
Elise Christie crashed within moments of the start of her 1000m race (David Davies/PA)

“I thought, ‘I’ll give it my best shot, I’ll go off a bit slower and I’ll catch up and qualify’,” added Christie. “I fought through the race. I haven’t watched it back so I don’t know what the yellow card was for.”

Christie had come to Pyeongchang as a triple world champion who was desperate to atone for a nightmare series of events in Sochi four years ago when she was disqualified from all three of her races.

But her experience in Pyeongchang was destined to become even worse.

Knocked down in her 500m final on the opening Saturday, Christie swiftly re-focused on the 1500m which ended in her sliding calamitously into the barriers on the final bend of her semi-final.

With her latest set of Olympic mishaps scarcely complete, a defiant Christie insisted she is determined not to allow a repeat of her post-Sochi turmoil, when chronic self-doubts and social media death threats had briefly threatened to turn her away from the sport she loves for good.

“Sochi destroyed me,” admitted Christie. “There was a lot of online abuse. I [thought I] wasn’t supposed to be an Olympic medallist, but I don’t see that now.

“I just see it as three races that went rubbish in the last four years. Unfortunately all of them were here.

“It’s not because it’s an Olympics, but it’s because that’s short track and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Mike Hay
Team GB Chef de Mission Mike Hay has backed Elise Christie to bounce back (Mike Egerton/PA)

Team GB chef de mission Mike Hay hailed Christie’s fortitude and said she would receive unqualified backing in her quest to finally achieving her elusive Olympic dream in four years’ time.

Hay said: “We are proud that she had the guts and determination to get to the start-line.

“She’s a proud world champion and even though she wasn’t 100 per cent fit tonight she made a bloody good effort to get there.

“It’s incredibly disappointing for Elise to come to the Games and go away without a medal, but she did get a fourth place and she still goes away with that potential which hopefully one day she will fulfil, and it may be Beijing.”