- Anything can happen!by Wendy G
This work has reached the exceptional level
And it did ...
Anything can happen! by Wendy G

A crazy dream. Impossible at so many levels. And yet, he dreamed.

He was ridiculed, before, during and after his dream came true. And yet … he has become a part of Australian folk-lore, and an inspiration for many who dream crazy impossible dreams. I count him a hero.

His name is Steven Bradbury.

He was an ice skater from Australia, where winters are not cold compared with most Northern Hemisphere countries – and where he was born, in Camden, a small town 65 kilometres from the heart of Sydney, it never snows. Children rarely do ice-skating for a sport; there are few ice-skating rinks. And yet ….

Yet he followed his dream – and became a speed skater representing Australia in the 1992 Olympics at Albertville in France. Eighteen years old. Eliminated in the semi-finals.

He continued to dream – in the next Olympics, he would do better! At Lillehammer in 1994 he won a bronze in the 5000-metre relay, Australia’s first ever medal in a Winter Olympics. (These Winter Olympics were only two years later in order to offset the summer and winter Olympics events.)

A short time later he was involved in a skating crash at a world event in Montreal. The ice-skates of a rival competitor sliced through his right thigh, slashing all four quadriceps – muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Because his heartrate was almost 200 at the time of the accident, he rapidly lost four litres of blood. He required 111 stitches and eighteen months of recovery time. Would he ever skate again?

In 1998, the Australian ice-skating relay team was hoping to improve on their Lillehammer performance. It was not to be. Although Steven was regarded as a medal contender in the individual events, there were collisions with other competitors, in both the 5000 metres and the 1000 metres. He would learn from this. In the next Olympics he would do things differently.

Determination was his middle name.

However, disaster struck again. In Sydney, in 2000, there was a training accident – and Steven’s neck was broken. The prognosis was poor; it was unlikely he would ever skate again.

He refused to give up – he had dreamed for too long. Despite all his setbacks, his next goal was to represent Australia at the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake City. It would be his fourth Olympic Games.

His event was the 1000-metre short-track speed skating, where jostling for the lead position was the norm. But he had learned from his past – and he chose a different strategy. He was an unlikely finalist, an even more unlikely medallist. But he believed that “Anything can happen!”

He chose not to join the race leaders, deliberately holding back. Pushing and jostling for the lead, (acceptable and legal strategies), had not helped him previously.

Suddenly, the unbelievable happened. The leaders with their vigorous shoving knocked each other off balance and fell, tumbling like a pack of cards, in a chaotic last turn pile-up – and this time he had room, and time, to race past the heap of four flailing bodies. He only had to finish the race, and the gold medal would be his. He held up his hands in shock and disbelief as he raced past the finish line.

It was Australia’s first gold medal at a Winter Olympics.

Of course, there were some who suggested he did not deserve to win the gold medal. But in such a competition, strategy is just as important as speed. Some of the other finalists chose the strategy of just going hard and fast for as long as they could, not necessarily expecting a medal, but with the hope that “Anything can happen!” It did.

Did Steven Bradbury deserve a gold medal? To me, there is no question. He didn’t win because others lost. He won because he was the best man on the day. He’d always pushed himself as a person and as an athlete; he won because his strategy worked in his favour, and perhaps he won because of his determination – he’d overcome more than most people face in a lifetime.

It was not the luck of a few seconds – it was the climax of more than twenty years of preparation, learning, strategizing, striving, and overcoming.

This bizarre story is still the most talked about Olympic final in any sport, even more than twenty years later. “Anything can happen!”

To me, it would be an honour to “do a Bradbury”. It means to keep on going till one’s dreams are achieved, regardless of personal cost.


Author Notes
PS: Last year Steven Bradbury became a hero of a different kind when he saved four girls from drowning.
Steven Bradbury showed courage throughout his life, determination, readiness and wisdom to learn from his experiences, and he overcame significant setbacks and pushed himself until he achieved his dreams.
Steven also won three medals in 5000-metre relays in World Championships: gold (1991), silver (1993), and bronze (1994).
He was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in 2007. He was also inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
He retired from competitive ice-skating after the 2002 Olympics but became a commentator for the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. Steven then turned to motor racing, winning many championships. He is also a motivational speaker. Steven Bradbury is married with two children.


© Copyright 2024. Wendy G All rights reserved.
Wendy G has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

Be sure to go online at to comment on this.
© 2000-2024., Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Privacy Statement