The 18-year-old started at the back of the pack as she knew she would but was able to make two good passes throughout the 1000m race and eventually come within a fraction of making the cut.
“I was just aiming to have a good race today,” Lockett said.
“The first few laps opened quite fast. The 1000 is not usually quite that fast. 1:29 [1 minute 29 seconds] is a really quick time – 1:28 is the World Record. I'm just so happy to have had a great, fast race."
The race was fast. In fact, it was the fastest Lockett had ever raced, setting a new personal best time of 1:29.256 – more than a second faster than her previous best.
Valerie Maltais, who set a new Olympic Record in her heat on Day 11, set a blistering pace. The 23-year-old Canadian was first across the line in 1:29.037.
Maltais was kept company from the start by Dutch skater Jorien ter Mors. Two hours before the race, ter Mors had set an Olympic Record with her teammates in the quarter-final of the Long Track Speed Skating Team Pursuit, but she showed no signs of fatigue in keeping up with Maltais, finishing second in 1:29.119.
With five skaters in the group because of a penalty advancement from the heats, Lockett was faced with the task of passing at least three women in order to lock in a semi-finals berth.
“I know my start isn’t that strong – I need to work on that when I get home! My start isn’t that strong so my only chance is to be patient and wait for the end.
“I had a lot of speed going into that last corner and I saw two bump into each other and that gives you the opportunity to pass. I just wasn’t able to beat that second person on the line.
“It was a clean fast race. I think if there was one less person in the race I could have made it. I’m really happy with that race. It’s good to get a good fast race in to get the whole Games experience.”
Lockett shows all the signs of being a force to be reckoned with by PyeongChang 2018, but she knows that to get there and challenge for a medal, she has work to do.
“I need to work on my starts,” she said. “It is technique and power. I have always been able to race the 1000m without a good start but now it is getting to the point where you have to have a good start. If you don’t have that start then you lose a lot of positions. And it’s that fast now that it is hard to make a pass in those first few laps so I’m going to have to fix it.”
Lockett will also be working on the nerves that affected her in her first race of the Games, the 1500m.
“I was talking to another girl who was at her first Games and she is the same age as me. She raced the 500m and she was feeling really nervous and she didn’t race well. She understood where I was coming from when I was being nervous. For my next Olympics I just need to remember that and be calm for my first race.”
The first quarter-final was taken out by Park Seung-Hi, who already has two medals (gold and bronze) from Sochi and is looking to complete the trifecta in the 1000m. Great Britain’s Elise Christie was out for redemption, having come into the Games as a medal favourite but been disqualified from her 500m and 1500m events. Christie crossed the line in second, advancing to the semi-final.
The third quarter-final saw triple Olympic medallist Arianna Fontana of Italy and 17-year-old World Record holder Shim Suk-Hee of Korea go head-to-head but it was not going to be a fairytale finish for the Italian who was hoping to win a medal in all three of her contested events in Sochi. Fontana fell on the last lap, allowing Shim and Fan Kexin of China to progress.
The final race was won by USA’s Jessica Smith with China’s Li Jianrou in second.
Maltais was looking good early in her semi-final but slipped and lost her footing on the final stretch, opening the door for Smith of the USA to advance and lock in a berth at her first Olympic A final.
The second semi got off to a very strategic start with Korea’s Shim and China’s Fan battling for the top spot. On the last lap China’s Li and Great Britain’s Christie were caught in a tussle that saw Li hit the deck and take Christie with her despite the unlucky Briton almost managing to stay on her feet. Both athletes were penalised and would not contest the B final.
The race for the medals was controlled from the outset by the two Korean skaters Park and Shim, exchanging the lead from lap to lap.
Speed picked up with three laps to go and China’s Fan came from the back of the pack to make a challenge for the lead, pushing Shim out to the edge.
Park held onto her lead, crossing the line first in 1:30.761 ahead of Fan in 1:30.811. Shim took the bronze in 1:31.027 with Smith rounding out the race in fourth.
Alice Wheeler | sochi2014.olympics.com.au