Whelbourne crash ends medal hopes

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Jack Whelbourne was sent spinning to the surface in the final Jack Whelbourne was sent spinning to the surface in the final

Jack Whelbourne's hopes of a medal slipped away as he crashed out of the 1500 metres short track final and Britain's curlers had a mixed start to their campaign on day three of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Whelbourne led early on in the short track final and was lying second as the race pace hotted up but, with three laps remaining, the 22-year-old from Nottingham lost his footing and fell to the ice, hurting his ankle in the process.

Canada's Charles Hamelin, who had won Whelbourne's semi-final, took gold at the Iceberg Skating Palace in two minutes 14.985 seconds, with China's Han Tianyu claiming silver in 2:15.055 and Victor An taking bronze for host nation Russia in 2:15.062.

Whelbourne said: "Unfortunately a block got under my foot and I toed in, which has given me a twisted ankle.

"It can be quite common in the sport. The block move, we have seven and up to eight people racing with tight-knit overtakes, so it happens quite a lot and this time it happened to me, unfortunately when I was in my best form."

Whelbourne limped into the media mixed zone with his right ankle strapped with ice and subsequently underwent a precautionary X-ray which revealed no fracture.

A British Olympic Association statement revealed Whelbourne will be "monitored further in the coming days, when a decision will be made as to his ability to compete in further events".

Whelbourne will be hoping the ankle recovers in time for him to take part in the men's 1000m on Thursday.

"If I keep on skating like that then there's no reason I can't do the same in the other two distances I'm skating in," he said. "I'm really pleased with my performance."

Whelbourne had been quickest in the heats and followed it up with another impressive showing in the semi-finals to go through to the showpiece as second fastest.

In the women's short track, British hopefuls Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin both came through their respective 500m heats with few problems.

Christie was glad to win her race ahead of Russia's Sofia Prosvirnova and get through to the quarter-finals in an event she admits is not her priority.

"It was a good chance to work on everything I wanted to work on," she said. "I used this to warm up and work on the last few things because the 500 is not so important to me. I am using it to build to the other two events. I had a lot more speed in me, definitely."

Gilmartin, who finished second in her heat to also qualify for Thursday's quarter-finals, was simply relieved to get her first race out of the way without mishap.

She said: "Me and Elise both had lane four, which isn't the best lane, but we both got the job done."

Great Britain's men made a winning start to their round-robin curling campaign as they saw off hosts Russia 7-4 but were then beaten 8-4 by Sweden in their second match.

David Murdoch's rink of Scots went in front in the second end opening up a 2-0 lead. The Russians pulled one back in the fifth but GB responded by surging 6-1 ahead on the following end, and, although their opponents reduced the deficit, they were unable to save themselves.

It was a different story against the Swedes in the evening. A point in the first end fired Britain ahead but they conceded two in the second, and the same pattern followed for the fourth and fifth before Sweden, skipped by Niklas Edin, put themselves out of sight, responding to a further point for their opponents in the seventh by scoring four in the eighth. Murdoch's men notched a consolation in the ninth.

In between the men's two contests, Great Britain's women were also in action and lost a difficult round-robin opener against reigning Olympic champions Sweden 6-4.

Eve Muirhead's all-Scottish rink, playing opponents they had beaten to become world champions last year and lost to in the subsequent European Championship final, found themselves 3-0 down after three ends but battled back well, securing a point in each of the next three to draw level.

The Swedes then regained the lead with two in the seventh and, after GB replied to make it 5-4 in the eighth, Margaretha Sigfridsson's rink completed the job by claiming another point in the ninth.

Earlier, Chemmy Alcott gave her confidence a boost for the downhill event on Wednesday with a decent run in the super combined.

The 31-year-old used the downhill part of the event as a practice run for Wednesday and did not compete in Monday afternoon's slalom.

Alcott always had the intention of pulling out of the super combined following the morning's downhill, as she is wary of taking on too much after the third leg break of her career in August almost stopped her from competing at her fourth Winter Games.

The Londoner said: "I want to focus on the downhill in two days. I have to think about where my strengths lie this week and they definitely lie in the speed disciplines. I know that I can ski better than that, so the downhill should be pretty great."

Alcott was the fifth person out of the blocks at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center and put down a time of one minute 44.83 seconds, which left her in 16th place.

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