ELISE CHRISTIE has had quite a journey over the past decade. 

The 30-year-old short-track speed skater’s travails have been well-documented; from crashing out of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi not once, not twice, but three times and then suffering similar disappointment four years later at the 2018 Olympics, to receiving torrents of online abuse including death threats and battling severe mental health issues which saw her self-harming, Christie has not had an easy time of it. 

But the Scot, who hails from Livingston, is nothing if not resilient.  

Most would have called it a day; hung up their skates, walked away from the abuse and tried to continue their life away from the stresses of elite sport. 

Not Christie however. She may have hit rock bottom in the past few years, but she refuses to disappear and instead, has her sights firmly set on the 2022 Winter Olympics and, far more importantly for her, showing anyone who is struggling that however low you get, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. 

Christie herself has shunned many opportunities to give up and having now come out the other side is, she believes, in the best place she has been for quite some time both physically and, more importantly, mentally. 

“I’m more content than I have been in a long time and I’ve found a love for my sport that I haven’t had for ages. It’s been so nice to get that feeling back,” she says. 

“As an athlete, I’m in a better place than normal because this year, we had so much time off competing because of the pandemic so it gave me the chance to focus on things I don’t normally focus on.  

“I’m really enjoying training and so for me, I’m in the best place I’ve been in for a long while.” 

Some of the online abuse Christie has suffered is nothing short of horrific. Her first real experience of it was the aftermath of the 2014 Olympics following her disqualification after colliding with one of South Korea’s top skaters, while more abuse came her way following the 2018 Olympics where she again failed to medal after crashes and a disqualification.  

It would be easy to assume that despite her Olympic failures, the fact Christie has world and European titles to her name would ensure she could find some sort of satisfaction.  

But instead, she had become so convinced that her only worth was of that as a skater. Failure as an athlete, then, meant she was worthless as a person in her own eyes. 

“The reason I got so scared of failure and skating badly is that I knew I was going to hate myself for it. 

“When I was unwell, I really struggled with the motivation to skate and I didn’t value myself at all and then you get into a vicious spiral,” she says. 

“I remember being at a competition and saying well there’s just no point in being here if I can’t win.” 

However, a change of coach, as well as clinical help and medication have ensured Christie’s mindset is almost unrecognisable from the one she found engulfing her during her darkest period. 

“I remember people saying to me that I needed to stop valuing myself only as a skater but until you truly feel that yourself, it doesn’t matter who says it to you. 

It was my coach (former GB teammate, Richard Shoebridge) who started to make me realise how true it is,” she says. 

“It’s not easy to separate your performance from you as a person. I think if I hadn’t been through what I have and if I hadn’t had the clinical help I have, I wouldn’t have known that’s what I was doing but looking back, I see now that’s how it was. 

“I used to believe there was no point in doing something if you’re not going to win at it but Richard made me realise there’s more to sport than just winning and if I raced at my best all the time, I’d never learn anything.  

“I’d go into training and think that everyone expected me to be amazing every day but that wasn’t what was happening – it was me who was expecting to be amazing every day. If I had a bad session I’d go home and that would be it – I’d be telling myself I was rubbish and what’s the point of it? Now though, I focus on how I can make it better and then I speak to my coach and go home and that’s it gone. And I get on with my actual life.” 

Christie is, though, committed to healing more than just herself. Over the past few years, she has won much admiration for talking passionately and openly about her mental health struggles with the explicit aim of helping others. And that, as much as anything, is what drives her these days. 

She will go to the 2022 Winter Olympics knowing it will almost certainly be her last Olympic appearance. While she retains a burning desire to return home with an Olympic medal, no longer will it define her. And that, she says, is the healthiest attitude she has ever had. 

“I spoke out about my mental health because there were points I thought things would never get better, and I still sometimes have days like that - but I wanted to show how helpful it is to get help before you do something you regret,” she says. 

“I also wasn’t comfortable with people thinking I was some kind of medal-winning robot. People were sitting watching me thinking I was totally fine and I wasn’t. I was getting all this abuse online and people aren’t aware of what they’re doing to you.  

“That’s what I’m so passionate about and teaching people that the sooner you get help, the sooner you can get better. Maybe if I had dealt with things sooner, my whole story could have been different but I wouldn’t then have had the chance to help people.”