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Silver wiped out as Christie is eliminated after crash


 Final agony: Great Britain's Elise Christie reacts after disqualification in the Ladies 500m short track final

Final agony: Great Britain's Elise Christie reacts after disqualification in the Ladies 500m short track final

Photo-William Cherry

Final agony: Great Britain's Elise Christie reacts after disqualification in the Ladies 500m short track final

SHORT track speed skater Elise Christie claimed her desire not to settle for anything less than Winter Olympic gold led to her disqualification in the 500 metres final in Sochil.

The 23-year-old was set to become the first women to win an Olympic medal in the sport for Great Britain when she battled through her quarter-final and semi-final in impressive style at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

However, seconds after the final got under way, Christie, a 1000m specialist, clashed with Italy's Arianna Fontana causing both women to crash to the ice before Korea's Park Seung-Hi also went flying into the barrier, leaving China's Li Jianrou in the clear.

The Scot scrambled back to her feet to finish second, only to find she was adjudged to have caused the collision with the Italian, which effectively rendered the race farcical, and her silver medal place was quashed.

Choking with emotion in the media mixed-zone afterwards, Christie stressed that she respected the decision, saying, "everyone can have a different opinion on what happened but that's the way short track works."

However, she admitted her competitive instinct refused to let her play safe.

"One of the things I find really hard about the way I race is that I can't hold back," she said.

"Had I just sat in third maybe I would have just crossed the line in third and I would have a medal right now.

"Unfortunately my instinct doesn't allow me to do that. I just try to win the race and that is what I was trying to do.

"I'm quite upset about it. I did everything I could but it didn't pay off.

"Basically I felt I had more speed, so I moved up while I could to stay out the way of fourth place because she was going to attack at the end.

"I got bumped by the girl on the outside of me and it knocked me off my feet, and obviously everyone was around me so they got knocked over as well.

"It's pretty annoying. People don't normally take hits in the first lap, so it is frustrating that the race was kind of over from the start.

"No one really got to see what they could do."

As she continued the race, with the noisy crowd as puzzled as they were excited, Christie could only hope her efforts were not to be in vain.

"When I finished I didn't know what call was going to be made," she said.

"When you are in the race you feel different to what it looks like.

"Different referees will have different opinions on different days.

"I knew it was going to be a 50-50 call. I thought it was more going to go my way than not but obviously it didn't, so that's that."

Christie will take some consolation from getting to the final of what she admits is her weaker distance.

She said: "I was quite happy to have got there but will probably need a day to get over it all.

"We still have almost a week to my main event, so I'm pretty sure I will be fine."

Coach Nicky Gooch, who won Olympic bronze for GB in the 500m in 1994, unsurprisingly backed Christie.

"For me, as she entered the corner, she was level with the Italian and the Italian closed the door on Elise and knocked her off her feet," he said.

"The way the referee looks at it is that Elise instigated the crash by moving into that space when there wasn't space.

"Whether you agree with that or not is irrelevant. The referee makes the decision and you can't do anything about it.

"The Olympic Games always throws up these controversial results. You could argue about it until the cows come home, it makes no difference.

"The Italian coach wanted the race called back because three of them fell over. He was calling for a no-contest.

"Had they made the same call that Elise was still qualified, she wouldn't have re-run the race but the Italian coach wanted it re-run."

Belfast Telegraph