Celebrating Steven Bradbury

Thrills and spills are fairly common at the Olympics. They tend to be more prominent in some sports than others, though. If you’re looking for dramatic (and potentially painful) pile-ups, then speed skating is where it’s at.

Steven Bradbury is testament to this. He secured Australia its first ever Winter Olympic gold in 2002 in Salt Lake City. He finished first after his competitors ran into one another on the final turn of the race, skidding across the ice while Bradbury cruised to victory.

At the time, there’s no denying that Bradbury’s win seemed like a happy accident. However, the then twenty-nine year-old ad purposely stayed at the back of the pack, in the hope that his opponents would collide due to their risk-taking.

Bradbury’s career spanned four Olympic Games and nearly two decades. However, he’s best remember for that one unlikely win. The performance remains a perfect embodiment of Australia’s pro-underdog mentality, with the skater earning and retaining the congratulations and respect of the Australian public.

Bradbury’s stroke of luck was paralleled this week by the surprise success of Chinese speed skater Li Jianrou. The two scenarios are remarkably similar: the skater was languishing at the back of the pack, until her competitors were caught in a tangle of blades, and voila!

Click here to relive Bradbury’s moment of genius/triumph/luck.

What a ledge.

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