Montreal medals for speed-skating couple as luck changes

GOLDEN GIRL -- Elise Christie (left), of Hucknall, on the podium with her fellow 500m medal-winners at the World Championships
GOLDEN GIRL -- Elise Christie (left), of Hucknall, on the podium with her fellow 500m medal-winners at the World Championships

The nightmare of Sochi is now but a distant memory after Hucknall speed-skaters Elise Christie and Jack Whelbourne won medals at the World Short-Track Championships.

The lovebirds, who moved into Hucknall just before Christmas, endured an extraordinary run of bad luck at the Winter Olympics in Russia last month.

But they bounced back at Montreal in Canada as Elise bagged a silver medal in the 500m and Whelbourne was part of the British team that took a bronze in the 5,000m relay.

“After everything that’s happened over the last couple of months, I’m so happy to finally get a medal,” said flying Scot Christie (23), who set a new British record.

“I want to thank everyone for believing me and supporting me. It means the world to me and I’m so pleased I can go out and do everyone proud.”

Boyfriend Whelbourne (22), who hails from Lenton, said: “It’s a great feeling to come here and win a medal.

“I couldn’t be happier with my indvidual performances during these World Championships, so a medal in the relay is the cherry on top. We showed everyone that we are one of the best teams in the world.”

Among Whelbourne’s teammates was his brother-in-law, Paul Stanley, who added: “Jack skated amazingly.”

In fact, he skated that well, he almost grabbed Team GB gold, surging past three rivals on the final lap before toppling over and sliding over the line.

“I tried my hardest on that last bend and I thought I had the gold,” he said.

“I went past all three of them, but there was a bit of argy-bargy and I went down.”

The individual displays Whelbourne referred to included the breaking of a British record when winning a heat in the 1,000m. He finished last in the quarter-finals, but was still placed a creditable 16th in the event.

He was 25th in the 500m and although disqualified in the 1,500m, his final overall position was 29th of 48.

Christie’s performances in the individual events were spectacular, building on her success at last year’s world championships when she became the first British woman ever to win a medal (bronze in the 1,000m).

She finished fourth in that 1,000m final this time round and fifth in the 1,500m to earn a final overall position of fourth.

It all helped to erase the memory of Sochi when she suffered THREE disqualifications and was dubbed the most unlucky Olympian in history.

But she didn’t leave all her bad fortune behind in Russia. For in the 1,000m final, she was impeded by the race leader, compromising her speed, and was agonisingly edged out for bronze.

Nevertheless, the team’s performance director, Stuart Horsepool, was full of praise for Christie and Whelbourne’s efforts.

“Elise was unlucky again, but she and the whole team have skated superbly throughout the competition,” said Horsepool.

“The relay performance was spectacular, Jack in particular. It’s a truly brilliant way to end the season.”

Christie and Whelbourne are now ready for a well-earned rest. They will be spending the next few weeks putting the finishing touches to their new home in Hucknall.