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Trump deserved to succeed in TV land with The Apprentice but I don’t think he deserves to be the last person standing on November 8.

Will Trump do a Bradbury? Last man standing

Peter Switzer
27 July 2016

By Peter Switzer

My story here yesterday titled — Is the stock market in La La Land? Will it be trumped? — got a lot of critical reaction. One was from a reader, a US ‘friend’, who said she was glad I wasn’t an American, which means I don’t have a vote! The other was from a New Yorker, who wondered if I’d prefer “a commo” as President?

As my old radio mate, Doug Mulray, from the great days of Triple M in the 1980s and 90s explained to me when I gave up academia to be a media commentator: “Switz, it’s better to be knocked than ignored.”

I’ve learnt that lesson. So has Donald Trump. And so has Steven Bradbury, though his knocking by some who think he was the luckiest last Olympic man standing of all time, is too unfair and pretty uninformed.

I hope today’s insight into one of Australia’s greatest athletes — ice skater Steven Bradbury — brings some slightly more positive reactions from my beloved readers.

On Monday, I spoke at the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) conference on the Gold Coast and before me was the ice skater Steven Bradbury. Youtube headlines his win at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 as “The Most Unexpected Gold Medal in History.” 

(You can relive it here)

That’s so wrong. The USA winning gold in the first modern Olympics at Rugby was more shocking and a great Olympic historian, I’m sure, would come up with others. Bradbury’s win should be headlined as “One of the most deserved gold medals of all time!”

I’ve interviewed Steven when I did the Qantas inflight program, Talking Business, for a decade. That’s when I learnt that he wasn’t just a lucky guy who saw his four opponents fall over. No, he was a guy who was good enough to be in the final of an Olympics with the some of the best skaters of all time. And at his fourth Olympics, he won the gold he probably could have won at previous Olympics, if he hadn’t had bad luck.

A lot of people think he was just a jerk from Australia who ended up with a gold medal so let me sum up his record. Here goes:

  • 1991 member of gold medal relay team over 5000 metres to win the World Championships.
  • 1994 member of the team that took bronze in the relay in Norway.
  • 1994 was favourite to take gold in the 1000 metre sprint but was knocked out by a rival in the semi-final and limped home in fourth place.
  • In 2000, he broke his neck.
  • In 2002, he won his first heat of the 1000 metres event. And then took the final when the other four skaters fell. And, in doing so, Australia won its first gold medal at a Winter Olympics.
  • He had been a world-class skater for over a decade, including being number one rated skater in the world at one time. He was a man whose time had come!

Bradbury knows he was lucky in 2002 because when he asked his Chinese coach did she think he could win, she bluntly said no! And that’s why together they plotted a strategy to sit back and hope for a crash where he could win a medal. Gold was more than what he expected, but not more than what this hard worker, who had been unlucky at previous Olympics, deserved.

What staggers me more is that this was all done by a guy from Brisbane!

Like anyone in business, this is a guy who had a big dream to succeed. He trained five hours a day, six days a week for 12 years to get that gold.

He loves and is so proud of his gold medal and passed it around the audience so we could touch it. And I could feel something magical about that heavy lump of gold go through my body and it made me regret that I hadn’t tried as hard with my swimming when I was young. Winning at that level, however, takes a special person and that’s what Bradbury is.

If you get a chance to hear him speak, don’t miss it. If I can tear up, you know he’s got a special story!

Now to Donald and the Bradbury in him. When someone unexpectedly wins, it’s now called “Doing a Bradbury”. This is now officially in the slang dictionary. In the future, there could be a “Doing a Donald or Doing a Trump.” He is already the last man standing as he competes with Hillary Clinton for the US presidency.

As an entrepreneur and brand builder, he’s one of the greats (I don’t think he’s a great bloke. Look at his mouth when it’s shut. It’s in permanent sourpuss mode).

But he is a great seller because he knows his customer base. That’s the skill of a great entrepreneur and it’s what Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and others have, but I wouldn’t want them to be President of the most important country in the world for economics, geopolitics and leadership.

Trump is great for selling a message and he’s learnt what lots of Americans want but it’s not what America and the world needs.

I love the US and Americans but they have some issues. One is diabetes and US television brings you a vast array of pills to beat diabetes.

A few years back I saw one starring an overweight Hollywood actor admitting he had diabetes but “with this pill I can still eat all of the things I like!” All the things that gave him diabetes in the first place!

The real solution for Americans with diabetes is a better diet, more exercise and eating a lot less. 

Donald Trump is giving a lot of Americans what they want, but not what they need.

I’d prefer a better Republican candidate. In the absence of that, I’d rather see Hillary Clinton lead the world.

We don’t get a vote but our world is affected by who wins in the US in November and the thought of Donald Trump — a great businessman — and Vladimir Putin — a great Svengali — leading the two super powers has to be something that sensible, well-read and intelligent people would be just a little bit worried about.

Trump deserved to succeed in TV land with The Apprentice but I don’t think he deserves to be the last person standing on November 8. That said, Hillary better lift her uninspired sales effort because she looks like she’s doing a Malcolm!

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