Christie 'confused and devastated'

Salisbury Journal: Elise Christie (AP) Elise Christie (AP)

Short track speed skater Elise Christie was left "confused" and "devastated" after her troubled Winter Olympics ended on another disappointing note on Friday with her being penalised in the semi-finals of her preferred 1000 metres event.

Christie, the reigning European champion and a world bronze-medallist over this distance, was looking to end her Sochi 2014 campaign on the ultimate high of an Olympic medal after the lows of disqualification in the 500m final, being judged to have not finished her 1500m heat and receiving threats on Twitter.

But the Scot suffered heartache once again at the Iceberg Skating Palace as a tangle with China's Jianrou Li on the final bend of the semi-final led to both crashing and being disqualified for impeding.

Giving her assessment of what had happened, Christie said: "I thought I'd just save my energy and try to smash it at the end, and I knew if I kept patient, I had the speed, so that is what I went to do.

"When I was coming around the outside, I saw that they went wide, because they knew I was coming. So that is why I switched inside, and then pulled tight early, and thought 'I've done it'.

"I didn't need to go for the win - I thought 'I've qualified, that's what I need, and I need to save my energy for the final.'

"Unfortunately, I got knocked from behind unexpectedly and fell over, but I still thought I would be advanced to the final, so it would be fine. And then I got the penalty."

Asked if she knew exactly what the penalty was for, Christie said: "Vaguely - I've not talked it through with them but he (the referee) said I pushed her over."

She added: "The problem with short track is that the referees are always different and there is no kind of consistency because every referee has a different opinion.

"I always respect the referee's final decision, and I have to accept it anyway because that is short track, but I don't agree with it.

"The reason we are so confused is that in the 500m, I got penalised for diving up the inside, so we thought that is obviously the way the referee is judging.

"She (Li) tried to dive up the inside, but I was pretty sure I was in front and that I got pushed from behind. I don't understand his (the referee's) point of view right now."

Christie had put in a confident-looking performance in her quarter-final earlier on Friday and said after her elimination that she had gone into the event in positive mood.

Reflecting on her time at Sochi 2014 as a whole, Christie said: "I have found it really tough, but after everyone in Britain and Team GB have been so supportive, I kind of got back on my feet, and I came out here and thought 'I have got this'.

"I had so much belief in what I was doing, and to have the chance taken off me, it is just devastating."

GB short track performance director Stuart Horsepool was in no doubt Christie had been the victim of an incorrect decision.

"I thought she had advanced, no question about it," Horsepool said.

"I saw it with my own eyes - the Chinese girl hit her from behind, Elise fell forward because she hit her hip from behind, and in our sport you have to be either level or in front.

"Clearly it wasn't, and I saw no reason (for the penalty) whatsoever.

"I have seen the replay from head-on, from the side, and I still don't believe the referee made the right decision.

"The referee is there to make a call and in my opinion he has made the wrong one.

"I have to respect it, I can't challenge it - that is what referees are there to do. I think the rules are okay - they are clear. He has just interpreted it the wrong way."

Despite her clear disappointment after the semi, Christie was still able to smile as she said: "My psychologist promised me my luck was coming!

"It is not the end of the world. I will come back in four years hopefully and try to make Britain proud."

Christie, who must now turn her attention to next month's World Championships, also joked about returning to Twitter, having come off the social media site following the abuse she suffered.

She said: "I imagine I will be. Probably after the Games is finished, just because I don't want to get any abuse off the Chinese now!"

Also on Friday, GB's Jon Eley - the three-time Olympian who was his country's flagbearer at the Sochi opening ceremony - was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the men's 500m, subsequently coming third in the B final.

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