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Year Awarded: 2013
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Steven Bradbury wins gold at Salt Lake City

Steven Bradbury won Australia’s first-ever Winter Olympics gold medal with his victory in the 1000 metres short-track speed skating final at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

The gold medal came after three rounds of racing in which his competitors stumbled, fell and were disqualified around him, causing him to be dubbed “the Accidental Hero”.

Bradbury had competed in four Olympics (winning a bronze medal in the relay team in Lillehammer in 1994) and suffered some horrific injuries on his way to this moment. He qualified for the 2002 final courtesy of a rival’s disqualification in a quarter-final and two crashes in the semi. For the five-man final, his tactic was to stay at the back of the field, and wait. It paid off. His four highly-fancied rivals all crashed as they jockeyed before the final bend, leaving him to skate alone past the finish line. He came to regard the medal as a reward for the previous 12 hard years.

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When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that the person conducts his of her life with dignity, with integrity, courage, and perhaps most of all, with modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, and competitiveness.