SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Britain's Elise Christie won the gold medal in the short-track speed skating 1000-meter event Tuesday, but it wasn't a smooth ride to the top for the Olympic skater.
While speaking to Sports Illustrated after winning the race, the 23-year-old Scotland native said the days that followed her crash in the 500-meter final left her "down and struggling psychologically.”
Christie said she had received “a couple of thousand messages that were negative” from social media users mostly from Korea. The Olympian added that some of the messages were "disturbing" and that coming back to the ice has been "quite emotional."
“The fact is, if there was 30,000 people that were interested in this sport, it wouldn’t happen every four years,” Whelbourne told SI, “and we would be more used to this.”
Christie said she closed her Twitter account and went for walks with her boyfriend, British speed skater Jack Whelbourne, to forget about the incident. But once word got out in Britain, her fellow countryman did nothing but defend her on the social media site.
Christie was disqualified after causing a crash during the 500-meter short-track speed skating semifinals on Thursday Feb. 13. The skater told SI that unlike the viewers watching at home, her fellow contestants understood the fall had been an accident.
“Me and the girl that was involved in the crash, we get along very well,” Christie said. “She hugged me and she went to the media and said, ‘I don’t blame Elise.’ People that don’t understand the sport are going to be horrible about it, I guess.”
China's Li Jianrou was the last person standing during Thursday's race and took home the 500-meter Olympic gold medal.