SCOTTISH speed-skating hopeful Elise Christie has complained of “cyber bullying” after suffering a double dose of Winter Olympics heartbreak when she was disqualified for the second time in Sochi on Saturday.
Christie, 23, was “gobsmacked” at being forced out of the short track 1,500 metres in the qualifying heats after skating wide of the finishing line, despite finishing first.
The skater, from West Lothian, fought back tears as she revealed she had been forced to delete her Twitter account over threats she had received following an earlier disqualification, when she collided with Italian rival Arianna Fontana.
The clash, which also sent South Korean skater Park Seung-hi tumbling, cost Christie the chance of a medal in the women’s 500 metres final.
Christie – whose main event, the 1,000 metres, is still to come – had appeared to win her heat yesterday, ahead of the Italian she had controversially cut across on Thursday.
But she was knocked back into sixth place by the judges for skating inside the final marker before the finishing line. Team GB officials later decided not to appeal against the decision after viewing television pictures.
Christie said: “I didn’t expect it. When my name didn’t come up on the screen, I was just really confused.
“I was playing safe after the 500 metres final by trying not to be near anyone. I’m gobsmacked. I expected the decision the other day, but not now.”
Christie, who was born in Livingston, was distraught for the second time following her latest disqualification.
Later she revealed she had received “threatening” messages on social media since Thursday’s chaotic 500 metres final. Her official Twitter account was closed down following talks with Team GB officials.
Christie, who also competed in the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver, said: “Obviously I find [the disqualifications] hard, but it’s not all about the medals, I’ve just got to keep pushing through.
“I’ve had quite a lot of abuse over the internet to deal with, it’s been tough as well. I’ve had a few people threatening me, cyber-bullying basically, so it’s been a tough few days.”
After Christie’s emotional interview, BBC presenter Hazel Irvine said: “It might be a brave new world [social media] but it’s absolutely baffling, that brave new world, at times.
“Charming – people out there with absolutely no respect for the levels of effort and application and dedication that it takes to become an Olympian, never mind get to an Olympic final. You do have to wonder sometimes, don’t you?”
Meanwhile, Christie’s coach Nicky Gooch said he was “shocked” at her disqualification, saying she had been penalised for the sake of a few centimetres.
He added: “The referee has said Elise didn’t cross the line. She has crossed inside the finish line and he has ruled that that is off-track.
“Therefore he is saying she hasn’t finished the race. She [has] done nothing wrong in the race, tried to make sure she was nowhere near Arianna and get her on the line, but the referee has called off-track.”