Short-track speed skater Elise Christie has revealed how her boyfriend predicted that she was going to become the sport’s newest world-record holder.
The Livingston athlete recorded the world’s fastest time of 42.335 seconds in her 500 metres quarter-final race during the World Cup’s second event in Salt Lake City in November – beating the previous record of 42.504 held by China’s Fan Kexin.
It’s really the icing on the cake for Christie, who will enter this year as the women to catch in the 500m rankings having won three golds (in Calgary and Shanghai) so far in the series. The 26-year-old also lies in second spot in the 1000m event with just two rounds to go – in Dresden (Germany) and Minsk (Belarus) next month – having secured double gold in Gangneung in South Korea two weeks ago.
But it was the confidence of her partner Sandor Liu Shaolin, a short-track speed skater with the Hungarian national team, that completely caught her off guard.
“My boyfriend was out there competing too and said to me before my race ‘you’re going to break the world record today I can feel it’,” Christie, 26, explained in an exclusive interview with the Evening News. “I just told him to shut up and stop putting extra pressure on me!
“Interestingly there was no well done after the race or anything like that, he just came up to me and said ‘told you so’! A lot of people win medals in their careers but breaking a world record is something different. It’s incredible, I was so surprised. I’ve known for years I’ve had the ability but to go out and actually do it is something else. I really was gobsmacked when I saw my time.
“I’m going to be so gutted when it does get broken. I think the only way somebody is going to break it just now is if I’m leading the race and they manage to beat me. At the moment I’m the only one that has got that sort of speed. I actually really like the 500metres now but according to my coach I’m good at all of them (500m, 1000m, 1500m).
“There’s the Chinese girl (Fan Kexin) in the 500 who is second just now and the South Korean (Min-Jeong Choi) in the 1000 who is leading at the moment so I think I’ve scared them a bit. She (Kexin) was the world record holder prior to me breaking it and she hasn’t really spoken to me since. I get on really well with the Korean girl and she is super friendly.
“I don’t think I could have hoped to have been in a better position really heading into the last two rounds. To be this high up in both is obviously really good and exciting. It’s going to be tough to win both but I’ll be giving it my all.”
Christie, the reigning European champion, revealed she won’t be defending her title at this month’s European Championships in Torino, Italy, and will instead make use of the time to continue her preparations for March’s World Championships in Rotterdam.
“I won’t be going to the European Championships because my main competitors won’t be racing and will be training instead,” she explained. “Maybe that’s the mistake I’ve been making these last few years but that’s all hindsight. I’d rather be world champion than European champion that’s for sure so I’ll be spending the time wisely and working on a few things.
“The main goal this season is to try and become world champion and I think if I continue to race well in the 500 and 1000 in the next two World Cup events then I can be world number one going into the World Championships and that will give me a lot of confidence.”
With the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, now little more than a year away, the Scot, who is based at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, disclosed she is currently being put through her paces alongside the male athletes of the GB squad.
“Training with the guys has had a massive impact,” she said. “It’s helped my speed, my ability to overtake as I’m now having to follow people who are faster than me and try and get past them. It’s challenging as I’m not winning all the time in training.
“But I feel every month I’m getting physically and mentally stronger so I’m super excited about the Olympics even though they’re quite a while away. Everything I’m doing now is based around trying to increase my chances of winning an Olympic medal.”