Elise Christie: From Olympic heartbreak to British history-maker
Short Track Speed Skating

Elise Christie: From Olympic heartbreak to British history-maker

13 March 2017 / 00:08

A picture can tell a thousand words in sport, and just one look at the beaming smile of Elise Christie would have painted a tale she herself may not have ever believed possible.

Having become the first British woman to win a World Short Track Speed Skating Championships title with 1500m victory in Rotterdam on Saturday, Christie would have been forgiven for taking things easier on Sunday,

But, within 24 hours of her first gold, the 26-year-old had two more in her pocket – in the 1000m and the highly-sought after overall World Champion title – while 3000m bronze provided the finishing touches to a dream weekend on the ice.

Couple that with a 500m world record already coming Christie’s way this season, and the path to Pyeongchang – less than one year away – is continuing to be paved with success.

Such has been the enormity of her achievements this winter, disappointments from the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games have long been forgotten where she was disqualified from all three of her events.

But, as well as the undoubted speed she has amassed, the short track specialist has brought a new aura to her competition, delighted to bring the mental edge which she previously thought was missing from her skating.

“This year I have really changed my mindset, it was win or lose,” said Christie.

“I risked losing to win, taking each distance one at a time this weekend. I have been physically capable for a long time, and I have shown I am mentally ready now.

“I was mainly focused on the 1000m, so winning the 1500m was a bonus for me, as I haven’t raced that distance in so long. I don’t think my competitors would have expected that either.

“I am ecstatic. The overall title wasn’t in my mind at the beginning. Staying back while the European Championships was happening in January paid off, I stayed in Nottingham and trained with recently retired Richard Shoebridge.

“I worked hard and got a lot of laps in which definitely helped in the longer distances this weekend.”EliseChristieGold

On the contrary to being a one-off, Saturday’s efforts were just a starting block for Christie, in a 1500m event that she had barely taken part in over the past 12 months.

Taking that form into the 1000m – the event she had set most of her focus – raw power proved to be the lynchpin this time around, accelerating in her semi-final before making the final her own, creating the necessary space to cross the line in 1:30.818 minutes, an effort built on the confidence of a day previous.

Yet there was still more to follow as Christie, who had finished fourth in the 500m in Rotterdam, took bronze in the 3000m, a colour she had been all too familiar with having taken eight World Championship medals without a gold prior to this particular competition.

And with a plethora of firsts already behind her, the 26-year-old added yet another gold to her luggage back to the UK - saving the best until last in historic fashion.

Becoming the first British athlete to ever be overall Short Track Speed Skating World Champion, Christie did what no other competitor had done outside of Asia since 1994, helping Great Britain become one of just six nations to achieve the feat.

But with the realism of a stunning weekend unlikely to sink in for some time, attentions now turn to Pyeongchang for Christie, while the British Championships will also gain plenty of focus in Nottingham starting on April 1.

She added: “I am also happy I got to skate the World Cup at the Gangneung Arena in Korea, the Olympic venue next year, it was good for me to experience the ice and atmosphere, the home crowd were just awesome, it was an amazing turnout and I can’t wait to be back there.

“A couple of years ago I was enjoying racing but wasn’t ready to think about going to the Olympics, now I am really excited and hoping to go out and win”.

Sportsbeat 2017

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