The final of the men's short track speed skating in the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games was an extraordinary event. It resulted in Australian skater Steven Bradbury winning a gold medal and becoming something of a folk hero.
The amazing story actually begins well before he ever lined up in the final. After convincingly winning his heat, he was drawn to race against the favourite from the host nation and the defending World Champion, and only the top two finishers from each race would proceed to the semifinals. Bradbury finished third in his race and thought he had been eliminated. However, the winner was disqualified for obstructing another racer and the Australian advanced to the semi-finals.
In his semi-final race, Bradbury was in last place, well off the pace of the medal favourites. However, three of the other competitors in the semi-final - including the defending champion and a multiple Olympic medalist — crashed, paving the way for the Australian to take second place and allowing him through to the final.
Bradbury was again well off the pace in the final. However, incredibly on the final corner all four of his competitors crashed out at while jostling for victory. With only 50 metres to go, he avoided the pile-up and skated through to take the gold medal. He raised his arms aloft in complete disbelief and amazement at the unlikely circumstances of his victory.
The unusual manner of the victory made news across the world. The media hailed Bradbury for his unlikely win and used it as an example of an underdog never giving up, regardless of the odds against them. From that life-defining moment, he became a legend. His feat entered the Australian vernacular in the phrase "doing a Bradbury" which is now known as winning accidentally or gaining unexpected or unusual success.
Bradbury himself remained modest and realistic about his achievement. In an interview after the race he said "Obviously I wasn't the fastest skater. I don't think I'll take the medal as the minute-and-a-half of the race I actually won. I'll take it as the last decade of the hard slog I put in." Very true words because he had to work so hard just to be in that Olympic final and give himself the chance of victory.
I believe this extraordinary feat teaches us a valuable lesson in life: never give up. Bradbury never gave up and finished as a gold medal winner. That's the way life can be sometimes. The race doesn't always go to the swiftest and the battle not always to the strongest. In any race, you never know when the others ahead of you may fail in their endeavours and enable you to be successful.
So, if you aren't winning or making the progress you expect, don't get frustrated or down. Keep persevering and think for a moment of Steven Bradbury. The obstacles ahead of you may fall at any moment and clear your path to success. It may come at the most unexpected moment and in a way you never imagined but in skating as in life, there's always the chance of 'doing a Bradbury'.
"Life's real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up."
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Article Source: Doing a Bradbury