Short Track - Britain’s Christie wins European short-track gold

Elise Christie ensured her golden form continued as she won her first European short track title in Malmo while fellow Brit Charlotte Gilmartin proved her own potential by claiming bronze.

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SWEDEN, Malmö : Great Britain's Elise Christie (C) poses with Italy's Arianna Fontana (R) and GB's Charlotte Gilmartin after the ladies' 1500m final

The 22-year-old British short track speed skater has been in red-hot form so far this season having claimed one win, three seconds and a third from the four World Cup rounds.

Four of those five top-three finishes, including the win, have come in the 1000m, in which she is the World Cup leader, with the other coming in the 1500m, this the event where Christie’s success started in Sweden.

Christie dominated in her heat and semi-final before clocking a winning time of 2:26.741minutes in the final to dethrone defending champion Arianna Fontana, who settled for second.

Christie’s opening-day performance marks her best ever individual finish at the European Championships having claimed double silver on the way to third overall in Germany in 2010.

However, it wasn’t just Christie who excelled on day one of the Europeans in Malmo as Gilmartin underlined her potential by occupying the third step of the podium in the 1500m.

She clocked 2:28.043 to finish with bronze, just over a tenth of a second ahead of Russia’s Tatiana Borodulina and then returned to the ice to help Britain’s women’s 3000m relay team out of the heats.

The British quartet of Christie, Gilmartin, Alex Stanley and Kathryn Thomson, competing at the Europeans for the first time since winning gold in 2008, finished third in their heat.

With six of the eight entered teams progressing to the semi-finals, Britain’s time of 4:21.586 was enough to see them through while the men’s quartet also qualified from their heat but in far easier fashion.

Richard Shoebridge, Paul Stanley, Joshua Cheetham and Jack Whelbourne clocked 6:51.379 for second in their heat to end the night on a high after no British male made the 1500m final.

Whelbourne, Stanley and Jon Eley all stumbled in the semi-finals as defending champion Sjinkie Knegt did what Fontana couldn’t and held onto his title on day one in Malmo.

Knegt, who won 1000m and 1500m gold last year to take the overall title, comfortably beat fellow Dutch skater Niels Kerstholt for the victory in the final in Sweden.

He clocked 2:18.474 for first with Kerstholt recording 2:21.101 for second, enough to keep Yuri Confortola at bay in third, the Italian’s time in the final 21:21.212.

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