Elise Christie admits the hopes of a nation are inspiring her as she goes for gold at the Winter Olympics on Tuesday.
Christie stormed to an Olympic record in Saturday’s 500m short track speed skating heats and her quarter-final is scheduled for 10am UK time. Canadian Kim Boutin – who is ranked fourth in the world – looks her biggest danger but the three-time world champion looks the one to beat.
“The thing I am most nervous about with the 500m is the start,” she said. “Because I am weak compared to the top girls. On Saturday my start went the best it has in years. I have belief in my new start I’ve been doing so that’s built a lot of confidence.
“I’ve got the world record in this event and I’m going to have to get near it to challenge.
“I know people are watching and that’s just really inspiring for me, knowing everyone at home is cheering for me. I just hope I can do the business for them.”
Two progress from the quarter-final to semi-finals – scheduled for 11.10am – and Christie will hope to go for gold shortly after midday, and secure the first of Team GB’s target five medals.
Great Britain haven’t won a short track medal at the Olympics since Christie’s coach, Nicky Gooch, won 500m bronze in Lillehammer 24 years ago.
The pair have a close relationship, with Christie teasing him in the style of a younger sister – claiming his technique was ‘rubbish’ when watching YouTube clips of his old races. He also has to watch out for her practical jokes.
Gooch admits there have been ‘pretty dark days and low points’ in the four years since the last Olympics, when she fell in two races and was disqualified in another.
But there were tears of joy when she won her three world titles in Rotterdam last year and he’ll be the first person she sees when she crosses the line today.
“Nicky has been my rock through all this,” she added. “He’s changed a lot since we first started working together. He used to be so argumentative and angry, now he’s had children he’s a big softy, he cries
when I win.”
Watch Elise Christie go for gold on Eurosport 1 at 10am this morning. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games on Eurosport and Eurosport Player. Go to www.eurosport.co.uk