#70SportWays (19): Steven Bradbury, the underdog’s triumph
Even after having passed dark hours, sometimes faith and destiny come and award you for your strength. This is the story of Steven Bradbury, Australian short track speed skater, who probably won the most unbelievable Olympic Gold Medal in the history of the Games, in the 2002 Salt Lake City edition. But let’s do a step behind, since Steven, born in 1973, started his career with great victories: when he was just 18 years old, he was part of the Australian quartet that won the 5,000 m relay at the World Championships in Sydney. It was the first time Australia had won a World Championship in a winter sport.
Moreover, between 1993 and 1994 he was again awarded with two bronze medals (1993 Beijing World Championship and 1994 Lillehammer Olympics) and one silver (1994 Guildford World Championship). But the same year, a terrible event occurred: during a world cup race, another skater’s blade sliced through Bradbury’s right thigh after a collision; it cut through to the other side and he lost four litres of blood. He needed 111 stitches and could not move on ice for three weeks. His leg needed 18 months before recovery. That injury was terrible and when in 2000 he broke his neck during a training accident, doctors told Steven he would not be able to ice skate again.
But he did not give up. And after recovery, he trained hard to participate to Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Games. Then, as a complete underdog, he won the gold medal. The final race, in particular, showed everyone how destiny would have awarded him for all the previous difficult years. All four of his opponents crashed out at the final corner while jostling for the gold medal and this allowed Steven, with only 50 m to go, to avoid the pile-up and take the victory. «I’ll take this medal as the last decade of the hard slog I put in», he said, when in everyone’s disbelief he became the first gold medal from any southern hemisphere country in Winter Olympics.