A Gold Medal for Doing the Best

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Steven Bradbury entered men’s 1,000-meter short track speed skating at the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics. He barely passed the qualifier, repeating the same mistake of moving before the starting signal. In the quarter-finals, where only two out of four skaters proceed to the semi-final, he finished third in the race, so he seemed to be dropped off. But the second place racer was disqualified and he could advance to the semi-finals by the skin of his teeth.

In the semi-finals were Olympic medalists waiting for him. As expected, Bradbury lagged behind from the beginning. However, the leading racers fell at the final corner while jostling for track position, which advanced him through to the final incidentally. In the final, too, Bradbury had to race with great competitors and he was again getting farther away from the leading group as it got toward the end of the race. Surprisingly, however, all the skaters racing ahead crashed out after a fierce jostling for position. This allowed Bradbury, who was in last place, to pass the finish line unhurriedly and take the gold medal.

As an old skater, he had had to consider retirement because of a serious injury during training. However, he overcame the difficulty with the single determination to challenge the Olympics once more. As a result, he could obtain such a valuable result. Maybe his medal wants to say this: “Don’t give up even though you are not the best. If you do your best, you can get a valuable result some day.”