Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Had there been a gold medal for putting a brave face on it, Britain’s Elise
Christie would have been at the top of the podium at the Winter Olympics
Having been disqualified for the third time in as many events, the country’s
foremost short-track speed skater managed – just – to hold back the tears as
she left Sochi 2014 “heartbroken and confused”, as well as empty-handed.
The 23-year-old Scot, who has also endured cyber-bullying during the Games,
was on course for the final of her favourite event, the 1,000m, when another
skater slipped and knocked her out of the semi-final race on the last lap.
“I’m really trying to hold myself together for Britain,” she said in a
televised interview afterwards. “I don’t want to be known for crying on
“I just can’t believe it’s happened again. It’s the last thing I expected to
It capped a disappointing day for Team GB after the much-fancied men’s curlers
crashed to an abject 9-3 defeat to Canada in their final, meaning they had
to settle for the silver medal.
Christie, who had been disqualified from her two previous events for technical
infringements, said she had found the experience of the Winter Olympics
“tough”. It was made all the worse by online threats which forced her to
delete her Twitter account last weekend.
Yet she appeared to have redemption within her grasp as she rounded the final
bend of her 1,000m semi-final in second place, having moved up the field
from last place with a superb turn of speed.
Even when she was felled by the Chinese skater Li Jianrou, she and her team
were convinced she would be given a place in the final, as the rules allow
when a skater is brought down by another competitor.
Instead, she made it a hat-trick of calamities when the judges decided she had
been equally to blame and disqualified her.
Having been given extra time to compose herself before being interviewed, she
said: “I’m gobsmacked and devastated to have spent all this time training
and not to even be given that final.
“I haven’t even given everything yet, I was waiting for the final. I didn’t
need to go for the win – I thought ‘I’ve qualified, that’s what I need, and
I need to save my energy for the final.’
“But unfortunately, I got knocked from behind unexpectedly and fell over but I
still thought it would be fine. And then I got the penalty.
“Honest to God I was sure she hit me from behind. Every single member of Team
GB is shocked. I don’t understand it.”
Christie, nicknamed the Livingston Express, moved to Nottingham when she was
15 to train full-time, and competed in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, where
she finished in the top 20 in her three events. By last year she had
progressed to become European Champion in the 1,000m, a title she retained
earlier this year.
“I will come back in four years and I’ll try again,” she said tonight.
If she had won a medal, Britain would have beaten their previous highest medal
tally at a Winter Games, set at the inaugural event in 1924. Instead, Team
GB could only equal that tally of four medals.
Earlier in the day the men’s curling team, guaranteed a medal after making the
final, never got going against their Canadian opponents, quickly falling 5-1
behind in an uncharacteristically error-strewn display before eventually
David Murdoch, the 35-year-old skip who had missed out on a medal at two
previous Winter Olympics, said: “It just feels that you have had a kick in
“Once that is over we will look at what we have achieved and it’s a silver
medal, something I have chased for such a long time.
“I’m really proud of the guys for everything we did.
“It’s an Olympic final and these things happen, one team was going to lose and
it just wasn’t to be.”
Back in Scotland, Murdoch’s Canadian wife Stephanie, 26, who had stayed at
home to look after their cocker spaniel, said: “When David left, he looked
at me and said: ‘This time, I’m coming home with a medal’.
“We’ve got a silver medal! David’s going to be on the podium. I’m over the
As for the future, Murdoch said: “I still have that desire, maybe now I have
silver I will come back and try for a gold. I really don’t know.
“I will speak to my wife. I’m overdue a holiday and a honeymoon. All my
holidays have been used for other things so I will have a little think.”