The Story of the Most Surprising Gold Medal: Steven Bradbury | Olympics on the Record

The Story of the Most Surprising Gold Medal: Steven Bradbury | Olympics on the Record

There’s Steven Bradbury,
first on the left, lining up for the final of the men’s 1,000m
speed-skating event at Salt Lake City. He was competing in his first
Olympic men’s final at the age of 30,
a career highlight for a veteran athlete
who had paid his dues in a tough and dangerous sport. Bradbury had been in the speed
skating game for 12 years, travelling the world
representing Australia in numerous international
championships, including three Olympic
Winter Games. Along the way, he had endured
a near-fatal encounter with the sharpened steel
of an opponent’s skates and a high-speed collision
with a wall. Hard knocks, lack of funding,
lack of recognition – it’s tough being an Australian
speed skater. Bradbury is from
tropical Queensland, where young athletes are
not exactly queuing up to take part in winter sports, opportunities being
somewhat limited. “Skating?!
It’s just a waste of good ice!” When Bradbury started out in
the early 1990s, Australians had
yet to trouble the scorers when it came to medals
at the Winter Games. They preferred to pursue other
avenues of individual success. It wasn’t as if Bradbury
had nothing to show for it. Without quite reaching
the pinnacle of his sport, he had already done more than
any individual to advance the cause of speed skating
in Australia. And when Bradbury emerged as a
skater of international class, he inspired a generation
of Australians – well, four to be precise –
to take on the world. At Lillehammer 1994, Bradbury
led his Aussie team-mates – Richard Nizielski, Andrew
Murtha and Kieran Hansen – into unknown territory. The men’s 5,000m relay final. For the first time, Australia were on the medals
board at the Winter Games. First Olympic medal for
Australia at the Olympic Games. And yet Bradbury did not feel
entirely fulfilled. He wanted to compete
with the very best. He wanted to win
an individual medal. And away from the relay, Lillehammer had been a personal
disappointment, as was Nagano 1998… ..and Salt Lake City 2002. Only the 1,000m event remained. Bradbury won his
preliminary heat. He then finished third
in the quarterfinal but got a lucky break
when the second-place finisher was disqualified for
obstruction. Among a stronger field in
the semifinal, our Aussie hero hung
around the back, waiting for a break
and then… ..a miracle. Second place and, for the first
time in his long career, Steven Bradbury had reached
an Olympic final, already the best individual
performance at the Winter Games by an Australian skater. Bring this on. His chances of a medal were still between slim and
none… ..because these were the guys with their eyes
on the top prize. Bradbury had one strategy in
mind – hang in there and hope. Ready to go now and we’ll know
in 90 seconds who gets the coveted gold medal. They’re off at the start now
and just a little bit of jockeying for position. Soo from Korea on the inside, Turcotte from Canada
on the outside. Remember, nobody necessarily
needs to go in front, you want to see what’s
happening with the skaters in front of you. Ohno there looking to move on
the inside, then dropping back. You’ve got basically
a four-man pack now with Bradbury in fifth. Turcotte quite comfortable just
ahead of Li and Li’s got himself
in a good position and again Soo goes on the inside
for the lead. The Korean in the bright
blue and yellow, easy to spot, and it’s Soo now in the lead now
with six laps to go. And then again,
Ohno again on the inside trying to get some position. Looks like he wants
to make a move but he’s sitting now
behind Soo, ahead of Li and Turcotte, Bradbury in fifth
from Australia. Now they’re starting to
stretch out a little bit, the field taking shape… ..and Ohno moving up on the
outside. Soo sees him coming but Ohno, there’s nothing Soo
can do about it. Ohno goes wide and then
cuts back in front. And now Ohno, Li has passed
Soo, Ohno was in second, Soo in third, two laps to go. Bradbury way off the pace and Li is now the challenger
for Ohno. – Li coming up on the outside.
– One down. – And Li has gone down.
– Two down. – Ohno and Soo have collapsed.
– Three down. – They’re all down…
– Four down. ..and Bradbury, who is
in the perfect spot, skates over the line. You beauty! Australia’s first-ever
Winter Olympics gold medal, Steven Bradbury is the
champion. Bradbury was having trouble taking in what had just
happened. But when the result
was upheld by the judges, he stepped forward onto the
podium to hear Advance Australia Fair. Steven Bradbury retired from competitive speed skating
in 2005. His autobiography is called
Last Man Standing.

100 Replies to “The Story of the Most Surprising Gold Medal: Steven Bradbury | Olympics on the Record”

  1. You’d think that Australia would have easily had a chance due to a high population, but they have a smaller population than Texas…

  2. I remember I hated Australian sport in this Era because they were bloody winning everything, even rugby, but I still smiled when I saw this race.

  3. This is Steve Nash's economic theory summed up. If everyone goes for the prize, nobody wins.

    Except in this case the one person that played for position got everything because the others got in each other's way.

  4. There's a saying in Hindi.
    "Jab upar wala deta hai, chapar faad ke deta hai"

    It's something on the lines of: When the guy above giveth, he does so very generously.

  5. he was clearly a top 7 skater though. give him that credit.. thjis wasnt a complete fluke. you have to get there first. he wasnt quick enough in the final though- they were flying.

  6. I'm aussie living in Canada and I always respond "Steven Bradbury, Australian legend" when people talk about it

  7. Ono was clearly interfered with while he was in first place on the final straight, the falling second place Korean grabbed his entire waist to make sure he fell even though the Korean had no good reason to grab his waist.  The committee should have given the gold to Ono there.

  8. I remember watching this from the telly at home. It was a big moment already, an Australian being in the finals of a winter olympic. And when he crossed that finish line first, I swear the entire country was stomping and shouting and crying and laughing. It was honestly one of the craziest moments in Aussie history.

  9. "Brandbury, will you come up to accept the gold medal" — Tyrion
    "What do you think I have come all this way for" — Steven Brandbury?

  10. If he was American they would make a movie and call it Miracle on ice 2 .. I would call it the real miracle on ice..USA beating Russia isn't a big deal.. Big teams get beat all the time in sport.. I can give many examples..

  11. He skated at my local rink. Going ice skating is a common summer activity now, and a lot of the credit probably goes to him

  12. After watching this, I have nothing but more respect to the guy. I've been watching his highlights over years. This is really a classic story of triumph, a film-worthy story.

  13. Bring this on!!! The Warrior call of all Aussies, the AZACAS and the proud aboriginal custodians of this wonderful land

  14. It's 4th of July 2019, and I ended up here. While I was watching this amazing story, someone decided it was a good idea to start chopping onion on my bed. ugh…great story.

  15. Proof there is a Sporting God. Guy was disqualified in quarter final which promoted Steve to second. In semi final some of the other guys fell over and in the final they all fell over. Still my favorite ever Olympic story.

  16. The miracle on ice. He made the boots for many of the top skaters,
    was happy to be able to compete in the final,
    & his humility shone through.

  17. What people forget is that, he still GOT there, yes he won because people fell over, but he had to get to the final

  18. If luck is ok and justified in sport over talent, ability, skill, training etc etc.. then make ‘snakes and ladders’ an Olympic sport. Yes he didn’t cheat but come on, he wasn’t the best in the world at that time…

  19. If anyone wants to call it luck, go break your back, slice your leg open and lose a near fatal amount of blood, and then stay within 20m of the best speed skaters in the world over any distance, and then we can talk. There’s always a bit of luck in sport, you don’t get the chance to win unless your in the top 1% of your sport.

  20. best moment ever.. I really wanna make the bronze statue celebrating that.. there should be one… friggen awesome x

  21. Jajajaja bien dice el dicho "Nadie sabe para quien Trabaja" el solo espero y el universo se encargo del resto.

  22. Some say it was luck. For me, it was his strategy. Like the pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie who kept attempting higher heights but failing until his last try, it was all about strategy. Bravo.

  23. I saw a video about this where he explained he accepted the medal for all the difficulties in his training which I think was a good decision

  24. I wanna kiss him and hold him, he is everything I love about this country. Cunning, endurance and going with the flow. He clearly knew exactly how these guys were gonna race, and I bet he thought it was always possible that they would waste out because all have them had hiccups in qualifying. A really talented and hard working athlete that has put Australia on the map in winter sports, and since his career sooooo many people have taken to the snow and killed it. sickning

  25. Lack of funding is the most common word an Aus athlete knows plus lack of overseas competitions unless of course your a swimmer or cyclist then you get a little bit of funding but not much

  26. Had the South Korean not chopped Ohno's leg on the final turn, Ohno would've won again. I remember the day that race happened and we all saw it on the slow-mo replay. The South Korean intentionally hit Ohno to keep him from winning the gold.

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