Here’s a story of perseverence… and the most unbelievable luck in the history of mankind.
Steven Bradbury was a short track speed skater from Australia. Going into the 1994 Winter Olympics, he was favored in the 1000 meter event, but crashed out after colliding with another competitor, which is a constant danger in that sport. He did win a bronze medal as part of a relay team later in the same Olympics.
However, not long after the Olympics, he nearly died after a competitor’s skate sliced through his thigh in a crash. He recovered to race again… but in 2000, he broke vertebrae in his neck in a training accident.
Now, fast-forward to the 2002 Winter Olympics. He’s entered in the 1000 meters again.
First heat: He finishes third. Only the first two go on to the semifinals. But wait… one of the men who finished ahead of him is disqualified, sending Bradbury through to the semifinals.
Semifinal heat: Bradbury enters the final lap in last place, well off the pace of the other competitors. Then, three skaters crash out in front of him. He finishes second, and goes to the final.
The final: Again, Bradbury stays off the pace. Going into the final lap, he’s in last place again. Around the first turn… still in last. Going into the final turn… still in last.
For the first time, the Southern Hemisphere has a Winter Olympic gold medalist.