While the primary goal of the Olympics is to bring athletes from various nations together for a friendly demonstration of the greatness that can be achieved by the human body, the Games are also a contest to answer the question of just who is the best in the world in its events. The dedication and hard work necessary to even qualify as an Olympic athlete doesn’t come without an extremely strong desire to win, and the competitive juices naturally flow all the stronger for events that don’t get a lot of attention outside of this once every four years opportunity to shine.
But the glory of victory is coupled to the agony of defeat, and Olympic athletes represent entire nations of sports enthusiasts, who sometimes take the defeat of their countries’ athletes with even more bitterness than the competitors themselves. Such is the aftermath surrounding the speed skating collision involving British Elise Christie and Korean Park Seung Hi.
The incident occurred during the women’s short track finals, the field for which included Christie and Park, along with Italian Arianna Fontana and Chinese Li Jianrou. Park shot out to an early lead, followed by Fontana, with Christie trailing behind.
As Christie worked her way towards the head of the pack, she attempted to work her way between the Korean and Italian skaters. The tight confines of the 500-meter course, though, mean that collisions are a common occurrence in short track speed skating, and Christie became tangled up with her rivals during her attempt to tuck herself into the second-place slot, causing all three of the leading skaters to take a spill.
Christie managed to regain her footing and cross the finish line in second place, but was disqualified and finished empty-handed. Park suffered injuries in the crash but still managed to finish fourth overall, and was awarded the bronze medal. Fontana took home the silver, and Li, the only one of the four not caught up in the tumble, won the gold.
Needless to say, Korean fans were upset by the British skater’s actions resulting in their nation losing what seemed to be a sure gold medal. Several took to the Internet to voice their anger, and not just through Korean news and blogging sites, either, as a number began posting angry rants on Christie’s personal Facebook page.
In light of the repercussions of her ill-advised maneuver, Christie left a posting on her page apologizing to all members of the Korean team. She went on to explain that she was simply focused on giving her best performance, and did not intentionally cause the crash, concluding with a message that she is praying for Park’s full recovery.
However, Korean media outlets report this did not fully satiate the anger of Internet users who have continued to post incendiary comments on Christie’s Facebook page, even following a second apology from the British speed skater. The situation has gotten to the point where the Korean media is reportedly imploring fans to cease the unseemly behavior.
Christie also claims to have received a number of threatening messages through Twitter, and has since deleted her account with the social messaging service. Her Olympic heartache continued after her crash in the 500 meters when she was the first across the finish line in the 1,500-meter finals, but was judged to have drifted outside the track boundary and was once again disqualified. Now that two medals have slipped between her fingers, hopefully those harassing Christie online will conclude that karma has done their dirty work for them, and move on to more positive applications of their Olympic spirit.