Whelbourne books Sochi final spot

Andover Advertiser: Jack Whelbourne (AP) Jack Whelbourne (AP)

British skater Jack Whelbourne will fight it out in the final of the Winter Olympics 1500 metres short track event later on Monday after a remarkable performance in Sochi.

The 22-year-old from Nottingham was quickest in the heats with a time of two minutes 14.091 seconds, having been first on the ice at the Iceberg Skating Arena, and then followed it up with another impressive showing in the semi-finals to go through to the showpiece as second fastest.

Whelbourne first took to the ice in the heats alongside Holland's Sjinkie Knegt - who was disqualified at the European Championships in Dresden last month for an obscene gesture aimed at Russia's Victor An after losing the men's 5000m relay - in a six-man contest.

Whelbourne made his move late in the race and held on against Italy's Yuri Confortola and Knegt, with the trio progressing to the nest stage.

The Briton appeared again in the third of three semis, in which only the first two qualified, and battled through to the final in dramatic fashion.

Whelbourne was placed in the inside lane and initially led from the front, and although he was soon overtaken, he fought back into second place.

In front of an increasingly excited crowd inside a packed arena, Whelbourne did enough to stay behind Charles Hamelin and give himself a medal chance later on Monday.

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 wary of her draw on the outside in heat two, but 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.

She said: "Obviously when I saw the draw yesterday I was a bit upset, well not upset but I knew it was going to be a challenge.

"Sofia is a good skater, she has been in the finals of World Cup this year and I haven't made the final in the 500.

"So I knew it was going to be tough and I know the lane draw will affect me in the next round because if I get out in front I can go quite fast but I couldn't get out in front

"But it was a good chance to work on everything I wanted to work on.

"I used this to warm up and work on the last few things because the 500 is not so important to me, so I am using it to build to the other two events.

"I had a lot more speed in me, definitely. I was being patient and watching what I was doing."

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.

"This being my first Olympics, I probably came here thinking this was a kind of a build-up to the next one, so I didn't put much expectation on myself. I wanted to give my best performance and see what happens."

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