Lausanne, Switzerland


British Short Track Speed Skater Elise Christie made a split decision in the 500m final at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and swiftly found her life ripped apart… 

“How can a moment in your life lead to something that extreme? We are talking about a second or less than a second and that led to death threats… I was terrified. I understand there’s consequences behind what I did in that race but I’d never thought about it like a life-or-death situation.

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Elise Christie (GBR) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

I wasn’t prepared for it, no one around me was. That day I hadn’t had my phone for a while but I remember picking it up and someone going, ‘Don’t look at your phone’. The first thing I saw wasn’t the death threats. The first thing was the British public saying I wasn’t any good. That hurt enough and then I saw the death threats and then I couldn’t stop looking at it.

I just couldn’t come to terms with it.

That's when my anxiety started. I remember just being really alone and really scared and not leaving the house. I had this anxiety for a year-and-a-half. If I was in a social environment, I couldn’t concentrate on a conversation because I was so anxious all the time. I tried to avoid going anywhere. I lost a lot of friends. It made skating a nightmare. I’d have panic attacks while I skated, especially in Relays. I decided to accept I needed help but the issue was I waited so long to get help I ended up clinically depressed.

That season everything went wrong. I was injured at the first Olympic qualifier and the injury never left. At the same time, I was breaking down behind the scenes. I didn’t recognize myself.

In the 500m [at PyeongChang 2018] I got a bump and fell over. I couldn’t believe it had happened again but I was like, ‘You know what, the 1000m is my best distance, the whole competition can’t go like this again’.

And then there was that crash in the 1500m. I remember the agonizing pain in my foot, but the only thing I could think about was [that] it was over and that there was no way I was coming back from it.

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There’s a lot of moments, that lead up to a single moment. And this moment was the point when my life changed forever, it was my tipping point, that gradually led to the worst experience of my life. I lost a lot of people I loved, through my behaviours, but I’d lost control. I wasn’t me anymore. I’ve gradually worked my way back from this point, although what led to it was far more than reached the eye, or what was seen on he outside. And a lot more has happened since. This year has been more than challenging to say the least, but I now know how to cope with things better than I have before, I’ve become more resilient.... to hear about the whole story, and how I fight back from challenges, look out for my book next year! I can’t thank you all enough for continually supporting me, but many people reach a point when there’s nothing anyone could say to make it better, and I guess I want to share how I overcame that, what led to that point and how to come back stronger. I’m now ready for my next challenge 😘 #book #autobiography #olympics #depression #anxiety #teamgb #speedskating

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I just went numb for a while. I came back and I just slept. Any time I woke up, I didn’t want to be awake because how was I supposed to deal with it? Then me and Shaolin [Sandor Liu] broke up and that was the moment I started to really deteriorate. I don’t blame him, I was a nightmare. I’d completely changed.

I spiralled gradually through the year. I was already self-harming by this point. It becomes this addiction, it’s your way out. I remember just constantly feeling an agonising pain inside me. And I felt like I had nobody because who do you tell?

In December, just after Christmas, I reached the moment where I couldn’t cope anymore…

Everything was just numb when I did it. Then 30 seconds later, I remember being like, ‘I don’t want to die, I need to get to the hospital’. My friend came and took me to the hospital.

That woke me up.. Mentally I’ve been so much better since then.

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Elise Christie (GBR) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (GER) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

I was surprised by the reaction when I spoke out. I felt like I was speaking to just my Instagram followers and my friends but it blew up over here [in the UK]. I’ve become a face of mental health. The response I got was heart-warming. It was the opposite to what had happened in Sochi.

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Elise Christie (GBR) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

It’s really helped me because I feel like I can openly talk about it. Even if I do struggle now things can be dealt with much quicker.

Now I’ve got two years to be me and see what comes out of Beijing [2022 Olympic Games], which I’m pretty sure will be a lot better because I’m not going through that again, not for a third time. I was the first European female to ever win a World Championships title. It’d be wrong if I didn’t end my career with an Olympic medal. I’ve done everything else.

There will be challenges, that’s my life, but I’m excited about facing the challenges now instead of seeing everything as a threat. I’m super excited and there will probably be a movie about it if I do win an Olympic medal. Reese Witherspoon could play me, although I could probably play myself because I’m so dramatic.

Elise Christie has written an autobiography charting her remarkable life and story to date. It will be available to the general public in the coming months.

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