Elise Christie missed out on the first Olympic medal of her career when she crashed out of the women’s short-track 500m final at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Pyeongchang.
For four long years, Elise Christie never strayed from the road to redemption as she embarked on a gruelling training regime and enlisted the help of sports psychologists to banish the agony of what should have been her moment of glory.
But one of Scotland’s brightest hopes for medal success in the Winter Olympics broke down in tears yesterday after crashing out on the penultimate lap of the women’s 500 metres short track final.
The speed skater, from Livingston, suffered a triple disqualification at the Sochi Games in 2014, an ignominy which was compounded by the death threats and abuse she received on social media afterwards.
Undeterred, the reigning world champion over 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres travelled to Pyeongchang among the favourites to win the one accolade that has eluded her so far – an Olympic medal.
For a brief moment during her race yesterday, it looked as it she would finally take her place on the podium, as she attempted to edge into bronze medal position.
Seconds later, however, she and Canada’s Kim Boutin came together and Christie was sent sprawling on to the ice, leaving her trailing.
In an interview afterwards, she struggled to keep her emotions in check as she reflected on yet another Olympic misadventure.
“I’ve worked so hard for that moment out there and I got knocked over,” she said. “It’s so out of control but that almost feels worse. Normally in the final there’s only four people so if you get knocked over you still get a medal by the end of it, but I ended up with fourth place and that’s pretty tough to deal with right now.”
Stewart Laing, Team GB’s speed skating performance director, said he did not want to “point fingers” after the dramatic end of the race, but said it was “soul destroying” for Christie, who was adjudged to have caused a crash in the final of the same race at the Sochi Games, before being disqualified in the 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres disciplines.
This time, Christie still has time to make amends, with the latter two events still to come, although she admitted it would be difficult to regain her focus.
“I have got a few days to reset and it is still almost a week until my best distance,” she added. “But right now I just can’t see living with this feeling. It is out of my control that I got knocked over.”
Mr Laing said: “We will regroup and refocus. We will give her time to digest but then help her cope with what’s happened.”