Which Of The Following Statements About Australian Football Is True Australia’s Bizarre Sporting Fortunes

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Australia’s Bizarre Sporting Fortunes

In Salt Lake City in 2002, speed skater Steven Bradbury won what television commentators in his native Australia called “perhaps the most incredible gold medal in Olympic history.” He was Australia’s first Winter Olympics champion and of course the nation was celebrating. Others, however, were somewhat angry.

By his own admission, Bradbury got lucky and won his medal after his opponents (including favorite American Apolo Anton Ohno) crashed in front of him. When he accepted the medal, he was booed by the mostly American crowd. Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan, echoing much of the US media, complained that he had won “the wrong person.” NBC commentators called it a sham and demanded that he skate again. Foul play was even suggested, as the referee happened to be an Australian.

But why bother celebrating the race if everyone already knew Ohno was the “right man”? The object of the game was to get to the finish line first, and Bradbury did just that, without cheating. The sport is not simply about speed and strength, but strategy and luck. Bradbury claimed that he had won a strategic victory; he knew that he couldn’t skate faster than his opponents, but he also knew that he could bet on a crash. Be that as it may, he won. Sometimes sport is like that.

Too often a worthy champion falls through bad luck or a freak accident, and Australia has not been immune to such disasters. As they celebrated Bradbury’s victory, the Australians were relieved that bad luck was finally on their side.

Compare the crowds in Salt Lake City to those in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics. As always, the local favorites were shot down. But one athlete seemed particularly unlucky. Walker Jane Saville, easily leading the 20km walk, was disqualified in the stadium tunnel, minutes from victory. Her crime: lift both legs off the ground at once, three times. Through tears, she asked him if she needed anything. “A gun to shoot myself with,” she replied.

Seeing this, the Sydney crowd was stunned, but still managed to cheer as China’s Wang Liping, well behind Saville, walked towards the finish line. Although many were angry with the rules of the track march, there were no boos when Wang received the medal from him. That’s the game.

The following year, at the 2001 World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Australia’s women’s 4×200 meter medley relay team broke an even more obscure rule. Having swum the fastest drug-free time ever, they dove back into the pool to splash around in joyous celebration, unaware that they couldn’t get back in the pool until the race was over.

The Italian team was still finishing, so the Australians were shocked to find out that they had been disqualified. This time, the Australian media, sympathetic to Saville, were less forgiving of these women for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. A newspaper columnist called them “four silly girls”, which was unfair, since the last swimmer had done nothing wrong, and the others insisted that they were unaware of that rule. When you are busy training, you don’t really have on your mind.

For Australia’s Winter Olympics team, Bradbury’s improbable victory in Salt Lake City was some consolation after one of his compatriots, world champion ski jumper Jacqui Cooper, was injured in a freak training accident. just a few days before. While Bradbury was winning gold, she was flying home for medical attention. Cooper was the favorite, but she was no stranger to bizarre mishaps at the Winter Games. In Nagano in 1998 (where she had also been the favourite), she fell on her head and suffered a concussion.

Freak accidents often happen in sports, and sometimes fate seems to smile on “the wrong person.” Ohno still won a medal (albeit a silver one) and was gracious in defeat. Meanwhile, Bradbury proves his true value to the Australians: he reversed the sporting curse. Finally, a freak accident was on his way. Since that extraordinary day, Australia has had the most successful Olympic Games in its history (both in terms of gold medals and overall), reached the soccer World Cup (for the first time in 32 years) and continued to shine in sports ranging from from cricket to lawn bowls. For now, the losing streak appears to be over.

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