Saturday, 16th February, 2002.
Salt Lake City, Utah, US and A.
The Men’s Short Track 1000m Final at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Steven John Bradbury wins Australia’s first-ever Winter Olympic Gold Medal, and in doing so, delivers us the greatest ‘It Happens’ moment in the history of Australian sport.
It’s often forgotten that earlier that day, Steven was eliminated in the Quarter Finals after finishing 3rd in his heat, only for officials to disqualify world champion Canadian Marc Ganon for blocking, and in the Semi Final, Bradbury adopted the fabled ‘Trail last and hope for a crash’ strategy, knowing full well he was slower than his opponents.
It amazingly paid off when defending champion Kim Dong-sung, Li Jiajun and Mathieu Turcotte all crashed, allowing Bradbury to win the race and qualify for the Final.
You all know what happened next.
On that note, it’s also forgotten how amazing it was for Bradbury to even get to Salt Lake City.
1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer: Bradbury wins Australia’s first Winter Olympic medal, taking bronze as part of the short track 5000m relay team.
1994 World Cup in Montreal: Bradbury’s right thigh is sliced open in a collision, the blade cut through all his quadriceps muscles to the other side, and he lost four litres of blood.
Bradbury avoids death, has 111 stitches in his right leg, he can’t move for 3 weeks, and it takes 18 months before he returns to full fitness.
2000: Clips a fallen skater during training and slams head-first into the barriers, fracturing the C4 and C5 vertebrae in his neck, leaving him in a halo for 6 weeks.
Despite being told by doctors that he can’t skate again, Bradbury recovers and sets himself for Salt Lake City.
Mick Doohan, eat your heart out.
The other amazing fact was that Bradbury became the first athlete from the Southern Hemisphere to win a Winter Olympic Gold Medal.
2 days later, our own Alisa Camplin joined Bradbury in that club, winning gold in the Women’s Aerial Freestyle Skiing.
But, the main reason this particular moment cements itself as No.1 on my coveted list, is simply because it did what every other moment failed to achieve.
It entered the everyday Australian vernacular.
Verb: Doing/Pulling a Bradbury, Bradburied.
Definition: To somehow win a contest (Often sporting), mainly thanks to all of your competitors ****ing up.
Example: Scott Morrison Bradburied his way to the Prime Ministership after Peter Dutton unsuccessfully challenged Malcolm Turnbull in 2018.
And that’s all for another edition of….