Elise Christie admitted the ghosts of her triple disqualification nightmare from Sochi still lingered before she safely negotiated her opening women’s 500m short-track heat in Pyeongchang.
The 27-year-old made light of a tough-looking qualification round, leading from start to finish to beat China’s Chunyu Qu in an Olympic record time of 42.872 – although her mark lasted precisely eight minutes before it was broken by South Korea’s Minjeong Chong.
Christie said: “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so nervous on the start line.
“It’s the first time the British public will have seen me since Sochi and I know what happened last time and I had small fears of it all happening again, so I knew it was related to that.
“You can’t avoid the fact you’re at an Olympics – there are rings everywhere. So I’m just glad I got the first one out of the way.”
Christie readily admits the 500m is her weakest distance so it was understandable she should feel the pressure, particularly given the heat draw which paired her not only with Qu but also noteable Korean Sukhee Shim.
Amid a raucous atmosphere, boosted by the arrival of around 100 members of the North Korean Cheerleading Squad to support their athlete Choe un Song in the men’s 1500m, Christie safely reached the first bend in front and never relinquished her advantage.
“The thing about the 500m I’m most nervous about is the start because I’m weaker than a lot of the other top girls there, and that was the best start I’ve had in years so it built a lot of confidence.
“It was good to know that I was one of the fastest out there when I was not going 100 per cent.
People have only seen me injured this year so coming in as one of the fastest and showing I am back to full-strength was my goal.”
Christie will continue her quest for an elusive first Olympic medal when the event is played out to its conclusion on Tuesday. But compatriots Charlotte Gilmartin and Kat Thompson will play no further part at the distance after crashing in the heats.