Elise Christie: Short track speed skater targets 2022 medal before retiring

By Heather DewarBBC Scotland
Elise Christie
Elise Christie is aiming to medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics

Speed skater Elise Christie says winning a medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing would be the perfect way to call time on her career.

The Scot, who has struggled with depression, wants to utilise being in the limelight to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health.

"I'm definitely working towards an Olympic medal at the next Games," she told the BBC's Fair Play podcast.

"And [then] hopefully a happy retirement, a happy end to my career."

Christie has spoken about her issues with mental health and self-harm, but says she is "in a much better place now".

The Scot is targeting a medal in Beijing after missing out on a podium finish in successive Winter Olympics.

"Everything's aimed towards [a medal in Beijing], taking it once step at a time and really working hard on weaknesses from the last Games," she said.

"And I'm trying to enjoy it - I know I've only got a year-and-a-half of pushing myself and grinding myself into the ground every day. While I'm still in the limelight I'm trying to [challenge] the stigma surrounding mental health, while doing so as that's a big goal of mine."

Christie has stepped away from social media on account of the abusive messages she has received.

"Certain days I'm fine and on others I'm not," she explained. "I've come off social media. I found it a difficult place in terms of the judgement that falls behind that and the fact I'm like the face of mental health.

"I almost felt like, if I showed weakness over social media, then people could say, 'well you say this, but then act this way', but I'm trying to promote that it's okay to feel this way and be this way and make mistakes. I don't think social media is healthy in the slightest, to be honest.

"I know for now that I don't miss it. That might change in the future, I don't know.

"I've been a bit up and down. I had quite a long good period for a while; I struggled a bit recently but am back on the way up again now."

And what is she planning post Beijing Games?

"I'm hoping that I'll be back coaching; and I might even skate relay, still," she added. "We've got a very good mixed team up and coming but not individual racing any more, no. I want to be enjoying skating properly and helping others.

"So, yes, I think it will be the last one [Winter Olympics] for me, unfortunately. But for me it's not about the medal it's more about the experience. Leading up to it, I want to be healthy, happy, working with a coach that I'm enjoying working with and believing we can win.

"I want to be in a good place mentally and I want to be open about what's going on and who I am, rather than hiding behind everything. I want to come out of it saying, 'that was my best shot'.

"These two last Games I've gone, 'well I messed that one up a bit, and the last one was taken away from me'. I want to come out of this one and go, 'that was it, that's all I had. That's what I've worked these four years for'."

If you've been affected by self-harm or emotional distress, help and support is available via the BBC Action Line.

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