Elise Christie has decided to perform a U-turn on her plans for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and continue with short-track speedskating after watching her medal dreams in Pyeongchang go up in smoke for a third and final time.
The British ice skater, who crashed out of both the 500m and 1500m events, was attempting to overcome a bad ankle injury on Tuesday that she suffered in the latter of those races. Having decided to compete in the 1000m heats despite her skating being severely hampered by damaged ankle ligaments, Christie’s hopes got off to a disastrous start as she was clipped off the start line and crashed on the very first corner.
The race was restarted due to the early collision, and despite Christie making a sluggish start as her ankle clearly was far from 100 per cent, she found a way to battle up to second place and seal progression to the quarter-finals. But the judges didn’t confirm the score immediately and it soon became apparent that they were reviewing an incident that involved the Scot and her overtakes on Holland's Lara van Ruijven and Hungary's Andrea Keszler.
Sadly for Christie, the end result was her receiving a yellow card – a sign that she had committed two fouls and not one – and she was disqualified from the race, ending her final shot at Olympic gold in Pyeongchang.
But rather than repeat the tearful reaction that followed her 500m final exit, Christie appeared to accept that she was always going to be up against it in the 1000m due to her injured ankle, and vowed to compete again in 2022 despite her initial plans to change sports for the next Winter Olympics in Beijing.
"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. 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."
She added: "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. 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."
Admitting that she did not know what the yellow card was for and a need to watch the race back over to understand why she was disqualified, Christie also stressed that she will not let her experience in Pyeongchang affect her as it did four years ago, when three separate disqualifications were followed by abuse and death threats on social media after she collided with a South Korean opponent.
"Sochi destroyed me," she said. "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."
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