Emotions ran high as Hucknall-based speed-skater Elise Christie made history at the World Short Track Championships in Russia.
Christie’s participation at Moscow was in doubt after she was hit hard by the death, only days before, of her grandmother.
It has been a difficult time in my personal life, so I’m really pleased.ELISE CHRISTIE
But she plucked up the courage to not only compete but also produce one of the finest performances of her career.
For the 24-year-old Scot became the first Briton in the history of short-track speed-skating to win two medals at the championships.
Christie, who has trained at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham since she was 15, landed silvers in the women’s 500m and 1,000m, and finished fourth overall for the second year running.
She missed out on third place -- and an overall bronze medal -- by just two points to last year’s world champion, Shim Suk Hee, of Korea. The new title holder is another Korean, Minjeong Choi, who pipped Christie to 1,000m gold by 0.052 seconds.
“Under the circumstances, I’m really pleased with the silver medals,” said Christie. “It feels good to have been able to deliver here in Moscow.
“Obviously, I would have liked to finish in the top three overall. I believe I could have got more out of the championships if my head had been in a different place.
“But considering everything that has happened, I’m pleased. It has been a difficult time in my personal life. Thanks to everyone for their support.”
Christie’s Moscow medals follow a 500m silver she won at the 2014 worlds in Montreal and a 1,000m bronze she collected in Dresden 12 months earlier, which was the first individual medal ever to be won by a British woman at the championships.
Her performance in Russia caps a wonderful season in which she has also been crowned European champion, winning three gold medals, and British champion at all three race-distances of 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m. She also won five medals, including a gold, in the six-round World Cup series.
Glory in Moscow followed a shaky opening to the tournament when she fell in the semi-finals of the 1,500m, which must have revived horrific memories of the 2014 Winter Olympics, also held in Russia, when she was dogged by controversial falls and disqualifications in all three of her events.
“It was a bad start, but just one of those things that I could do nothing about,” said Christie, who studies at Loughborough University. “After the disappointment in Sochi last year, I wanted to come back fighting. To gain the European title and two medals at the worlds feels like a great end to the season.”
Stuart Horsepool, performance director for GB Short Track, said: “I’m so proud of Elise. She has done a superb job. She’s worked so hard every day to get these results and now she is feeling a huge sense of satisfaction.”
Christie’s boyfriend, Jack Whelbourne, with whom she shares a house in Hucknall, also fared well in Moscow. He reached the semi-finals of the men’s 1,000m, finishing ninth overall, and was part of the British relay team that took second place in the 5,000m B final, finishing sixth overall. He also made the semis of the 1,500m and the quarter-finals of the 500m.
Added a delighted Horsepool: “It has been a fantastic World Championships for the British senior team and a superb end to the season. We have met all our targets.”