Sports psychologist helps Elise Christie banish death threats

Elise Christie is looking to the future again
Elise Christie is looking to the future again
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Livingston short track speed skater Elise Christie has admitted it has taken a lot of help from a sports psychologist over the past two years for her to finally banish the memory of death threats she received to the back of her mind.

Soon after Christie, who turned 27 last Sunday, was disqualified from three events at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 she started to become the victim of internet trolls.

In her disqualification in the 500m final she knocked over two fellow riders, one of which was Korean, Park Seung-Hi, and she then received abuse from people in Korea which led to the police getting involved.

She has previously talked about how she almost gave up the sport at that time and she admitted it took her a long time to ask for help to bring her life and career fully back on the right track.

“I have worked with someone on the mental side over the last couple of years,” Christie, who won world titles at 1000m, 1500m and the overall gold in Rotterdam in March, revealed.

“Initially [after the death threats], I tried to deal with it all on my own.

“Obviously I had the support of my team-mates and everyone around me, but I just tried to get through it.

“Eventually, I had to go and ask for some help because I just struggled with the fact that my sport had led to death threats, I couldn’t link how that worked.

“Why has something that I’ve loved since I was a kid, something I’ve dreamt of doing, led to that.

“It took two years [after 2014] for me to ask for that help. I mean, people had advised it, but I’d just said, ‘Nah, I’m fine’.

“Ultimately I felt that, if I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t unlock my full potential and get back to being the athlete I knew I could be.”

The next Winter Olympics is in Pyeongchang in South Korea in February and Christie says she has no qualms about travelling there.

“The next World Cup event [after the death threats] that I went to in Korea, I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I’m going to get booed’, I was preparing myself for the worst.

“Then everyone ran at me [to welcome me]. I couldn’t go in the stands to warm up, there were so many people wanting to greet me.

“I think they almost felt embarrassed for the people who had done what they’d done to me regarding the threats. It almost made them have the opposite reaction.

“It was nice, definitely and I was surprised, for sure.

“Speed skating is huge out in Korea, their national sport.

“We went out in December for the World Cup and the crowd was pretty incredible so I can’t imagine what it will be like for the Olympics, but I am 
excited.

“It’s good that it has obviously turned around for me, I wouldn’t want to go out there being hated, that’s for sure.”