Fenton Stephens does a Bradbury

Written by: Sean Birk

01He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia. He has been inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. He has his own Australia Post stamp and his name is even in the Macquarie dictionary. So why is he still called the luckiest gold medallist in history? We invited the legend that is Steven Bradbury to explain. And we got an unexpected lesson in what success is really all about.

“Show up every day with this thing turned to positive!” said Bradbury, tapping the side of his head and giving us an intense stare that belied a well-honed Aussie sense of humour. “Set goals – and then be willing to do what it takes to achieve those goals.” Standard fare for a motivational speaker, until we learned about the excruciating regimen that Bradbury had stuck to, year after year, since starting speed skating as a teenager. And about the life-threating injuries, like the severed artery that almost caused him to bleed out on the ice or the broken neck sustained just 18 months before those famous Winter Games. We learned quickly that Steven Bradbury trained 5 hours a day, 6 days a week for over 12 years in order to become an overnight success.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Over the next hour, he shared his story. It’s a fascinating one, told with a level of passion and showmanship that you might expect from the famously flamboyant athlete. And it makes one point clear: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Far from being lucky, Steven Bradbury was the man best prepared for the opportunity when it arrived.

“It’s not about the Gold Medal.” said Bradbury, “It’s about having a team you trust – and showing up, every day, with this thing turned to positive.” Another tap on the side of his head. Another lingering stare.

“In the end, success is not about always being first – but being willing to do what it takes to be the last one standing.”