Good fortune: more than a stroke of luck


Steven Bradbury’s gold medal winning performance (ice skating) at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics can be viewed as a ‘life-lesson’ for all of us. Bradbury, a former Griffith student, showed the world that if you choose a path of perseverance – you are sometimes richly rewarded for your persistence.

Bradbury, by his own admission, was not nearly as skilled as the other four skaters that he lined up against in the final of the 1000 Metre short track speed skating final at the 2002 Winter Olympics. In fact, he and his coach recognised his limitations and actually chose the tactic to deliberately ‘hang back’ in the race.

The idea being that the faster, more skilled skaters may end up ‘crashing out’ of the race as they jostled and took risks in an effort to win – and that ultimately – Bradbury might pick up a medal if enough of those in front of him failed to finish. Of course, he would go on to win. Watch the race here.

Bradbury’s success has entered Australian sporting folklore and the phrase ‘pulling a Bradbury’ is now not an uncommon term used for describing an unexpected or unusual success.

However, critics have suggested that he was an undeserving opportunist; the crash of the four skaters in front of him meant that the ‘wrong’ person won the race. They argue that this event was a race and that Bradbury did anything but ‘race’ by simply holding back and hoping for the other competitors to fall.

So was Bradbury a lucky winner? Perhaps – but first consider this…

On many days he was anything but lucky. 18 months before this triumph he broke his neck in a training accident and had to wear a ‘halo’ brace to repair the damage and undergo months of rehabilitation. In 1994, at a World Cup event, another skater’s blade sliced clean through is thigh. This injury saw Bradbury rapidly lose four litres of blood and he nearly died.

Before winning his Olympic gold medal, he had trained for 5 hours a day, 6 days a week for more than 12 years. And suggesting he was purely ‘lucky’ ignores the fact that previous to this success, he had won an Olympic bronze medal and three World Championship medals including a 1991 gold medal as a member of a 5000 Metre Australian relay team.

Regardless of whether you think this former Griffith student was lucky or not – no one can take away his Olympic gold medal and all that he has achieved in his chosen sport.

So the next time you are faced with adversity at work or in your personal life – what will you do? Will you give up and say ‘it’s all too hard’? Or might you take inspiration from this famous Griffith alumnus and try to ‘pull a Bradbury’?…

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