Making a Bradbury

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Making a Bradbury

The author is a national team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

At the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002, Kim Dong-sung of Korea and Li Jiajun of China were considered medal favorites in the men’s 1,000-meter short track. But at the final, 29-year-old Australian speed skater Steven Bradbury won the gold medal. On the final lap, three leading skaters crashed and Bradbury, who was in last place, finished the race and won the gold.

Recently, Bradbury is being mentioned again in Korea after Olympic short-track speed skater Shim Suk-hee’s text messages with a 2018 PyeongChang Olympic team coach were released. Shim taunted her teammates, Choi Min-jeong and Kim A-rang, with vulgar language. Notably, before the 1,000-meter final, she made a controversial comment, “If it doesn’t work, we can make a Bradbury.” In the actual race, Shim Suk-hee and Choi Min-jeong crashed and fell, and both failed to win a medal, probably over their rivalry originating with factionalism and ending up in some sort of own goal in football.

After the text exchange was made public, Shim claimed, “The part where I mentioned Bradbury and described an intentional crash is not true at all.” But the allegation has been raised, and is not likely to fade away. Most of all, Choi Min-jeong, who would be a victim if it is true, is responding seriously. Choi’s agency urged an investigation on whether the crash was intentional.

If Bradbury learns that he is being mentioned in Korea, he would feel that it is unfair. He did not use any trick or tactic to win the gold. He accepted the reality that he was falling behind other skaters, but he did not give up and kept his pace. Then the skaters ahead of him fell and he was the only one to finish the race. After retirement, he published a memoir titled “Last Man Standing.”

The expression “making a Bradbury” can have completely different meanings depending on how you use it. If you are blinded by envy and jealousy, it can be an ugly conspiracy to hinder a rival’s future. But it can also be used in a way that we need to create a society where people who may lack talent but do not give up and make constant efforts can succeed. In the dirty world of violations and tricks, I hope people like Bradbury can create sturdy success stories.
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