Elise Christie insisted the smile was back on her face as she bids to conclude an Olympic story that has had its share of misery and agony with a happy ending.
There were tears again for Christie in Sochi yesterday but this time they were tears of relief rather than anger or frustration.
The 23-year-old short track speed skater from Livingston produced an astute performance to progress through her 1000m heat with ease.
But after a nightmare week that has seen her disqualified from the 500m final, attacked on social media and struck out from a 1500m race she appeared to win, only to be told she’d missed the finish line by fractions, it was just good to skate without any dramas.
“I’ve had a few days feeling quite down and I was pretty emotional,” she admitted. “I didn’t train very well this week but when I stepped on the ice I was ready to go and felt very confident.
“I did briefly think about pulling out but I would never do that. I’ve got that grit in me that keeps me wanting to carry on but I was feeling pretty low, the lowest I have in my career. I know disqualifications come with short track but I felt I had a lot of people against me last week. But that’s all gone now and I know I’ve got the whole of Britain behind me and everything is wiped now.”
Christie has a tough draw in Friday’s quarter-finals, lining up against Korea’s Seung-Hi Park, one of the skaters she brought down during the 500m final, new Dutch star Jorien ter Mors, who is seeking a prized double after winning the 1500m long track speed skating title on Sunday, plus Canada’s Marie-Eve Drolet and France’s Veronique Pierron.
However, only the top two will advance to the semi-finals and, as we’ve heard often in recent days, anything can happen in short track.
Elsewhere, Murray Buchan paid tribute to fallen team-mate Rowan Cheshire after becoming the first Scottish athlete to compete in freestyle skiing halfpipe at the Winter Olympics.
Buchan, from Edinburgh, took to the halfpipe at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park barely hours after it was confirmed a nasty fall in training by Cheshire at the same venue on Sunday would rule her out of competing.
The two do the same event, which is making its Games debut in Sochi with Cheshire initially due to compete on Thursday and Buchan placing 17th with a best score of 62.40 after landing two clean runs. Heavy snowfall greeted athletes for the first time during the Games at the park on Tuesday with Buchan missing out on a place in the evening’s final by just five places. And Buchan admitted his performance was for Cheshire, who is recovering from a concussion, while he also hopes more athletes are encouraged and not put off by events in Sochi.
“Everyone wanted to do it for Rowan. She would want us to go out and do our best, she wouldn’t want us to shy away,” said Buchan. “It is part of the sport, injuries happen all of the time in any sport, and it happens a lot more often than not in skiing because there is a lot of risk involved.
“For me, it is amazing to be the first Scot to compete in the first ski halfpipe event at the Olympics and I think there will be many more.
“There are a lot of good young riders coming through from Scotland, so hopefully I won’t be the last.”
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