How to Become an Overnight Success

Success in short track speed skating requires high levels of technical skill and incredible athleticism. In February 2002, the Olympic final of men’s short track speed skating featured several bona fide stars, including Apolo Ohno, who was favored to win a gold medal skating for the USA. The race also included a 28-year-old Australian called Stephen Bradbury who was essentially unknown outside of speed skating. As the racers came into the final turn, Bradbury was well behind the leaders and out of medal contention. In the blink of an eye, one of the lead skaters fell and slid off the track, taking the rest of the pack with him in a tangle of skates and limbs. Bradbury was the last man standing and he coasted ...

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