Winter Olympics 2014: Team GB medal hope Jack Whelbourne crashes out of 1500m speed skating final

22-year-old appeared to suffer an ankle injury that could put his participation in the 500m and 1000m into doubt
  • @RobinScottEllio

Jack Whelbourne endured a painful start to his Olympic Games. Having overachieved in reaching the final of the short-track speed skating 1500m – the first Britain ever to do so – Whelbourne was sent sprawling across the ice after tripping over one of the blocks that mark the course around the rink in the Iceberg Skating Palace.

Whelbourne, the boyfriend of Elise Christie, a medal prospect in the women’s events, slithered into the cushioned barriers as the remaining six finalists swept on round the course. He limped back to his feet and tried at least to complete the race, only to be ushered to the sidelines by an official.

An X-ray revealed no fracture and he will take a late decision as to whether to compete in the 1000m on Thursday.

“I was hoping to do a little better than I did but I got a British record in the first race and I managed to get a win under my belt,” said Whelbourne. “Unfortunately, a block got under my foot, which has given me a twisted ankle. It can be quite common in the sport. The blocks move. This time it happened to me, unfortunately when I was in my best form.”

Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin both qualified for Thursday’s quarter-finals of the 500m. Christie, the only British woman to have ever won a World Championships medal, impressed in what is not her strongest event as she won her heat.

There was encouraging news for Lizzy Yarnold, the favourite to win the skeleton. In her first practice run she finished quickest, in her second she was fourth-fastest. It maintains the fine form she showed in first practice last week. Shelley Rudman was 15th and 16th. The four skeleton runs are divided across Thursday and Friday nights.

There was no record-breaking medal last night for Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. The Norwegian biathlete was chasing a 13th Olympic medal, a tally that would leave him alone as the most decorated Winter Olympian (swimmer Michael Phelps with 22 has the most from any Olympics). Bjoerndalen currently shares the honour with his compatriot Bjorn Daehlie after claiming gold in the 10km sprint on Saturday. He came close on Monday, finishing outside the medals by 1.7sec in the 12.5km pursuit. It is likely to have only delayed his coronation as Norway are strong favourites in both relays.

The flamboyant Julia Mancuso is already the most decorated female US skier and added another medal, her fourth, although as in Vancouver four years ago she was beaten by Maria Höfl-Riesch in the super combined. Mancuso, whose form this season had been so poor she took a break from the sport over Christmas, flew through the downhill section to earn a lead of more than a second over Höfl-Riesch.

But the German dramatically overturned the deficit in the slalom. Mancuso finished 0.17sec behind and was beaten to the silver by Austria’s Nicole Hosp. Britain’s Chemmy Alcott was 16th in the downhill section and then withdrew – she wanted to use it as a dry run for tomorrow’s downhill.