The One Percenters are the difference makers
I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Asbestos Industry Association meeting a couple of weeks ago, where I bought your book.
I have finished reading it, and I really enjoyed it. Like most Australians I knew absolutely nothing about speed skating, but at least now I know enough to really appreciate it the next time I watch the winter Olympics.
I had never met an Olympic Gold medallist before, other than Dawn Frazer, who was a close friend of my father. They grew up and swam together at Balmain baths, and she rang me to offer her sympathy when he died in 2005.
Like you, I am a bit of a sports tragic. I have been involved with Rugby League and AFL clubs for over 35 years as a trainer / strapper, and I am still doing it today.
I also play over 60’s cricket, and I am going to Perth in November to play in the National Championships for QLD against the other states, from which an Australian over 60’s team will be selected to play a tri-series against South Africa and England.
All of that aside, I really wanted to relate a couple of things that I got from what you spoke about, and from reading your book.
I was chatting to you when you were setting up for your presentation because I had arrive a bit early for the meeting. You were checking that everything was working and you picked up that the fridge at the bar was “humming” and you weren’t too happy about it.
You went over the girl at the bar and asked if the sound was coming from the fridge and could anything be done to stop it while you were doing your presentation. She offered to turn it off.
I have to be honest and say when I saw that happen, I thought “this bloke is a bit of tosser isn’t he? Carrying on about a bloody fridge making a bit of noise?” But now I get it.
You spoke about your 100% attitude to training and competing, detailed preparation and getting the 1 percenters right. The fridge episode was a perfect example of what you talk about. That noisy fridge was possibly going to detract from your presentation by 1% , if at all.
But that wasn’t good enough for you. Even speaking to a bunch of nobodies at the Hamilton Hotel, you wanted to make sure that everything was prepared correctly and ready to go, so that you could give the best presentation you could. On reflection, I really admire that, and I will remember it.
The second matter relates to my 29 year old son Dan. He, like you, and like me, is competitive in everything he does. Always has been, since he was a kid. He was a representative Rugby Union player as a teenager, and started boxing for fitness. The coach saw some ability and convinced him to have his first amateur fight when he was about 19. I watched that fight at Beenleigh and he got smashed for three brutal rounds. I went into the dressing room after the fight and he had broken ribs, a broken nose, swollen eyes and he was a mess. I put my arm around him and said “well mate, you’ve satisfied your curiosity about fighting, so you can give it up now” . He looked up at me and said “No way, I’m going to train hard for the next 12 months and fight again”. He did, and has never been beaten again in 15 fights, including 3 MMA cage fights. He runs Whitsunday Marshal Arts with his mate at Airlie Beach, and has been to Las Vegas this year to corner for Australian fighter Anton Zafir.
But, the real parallel with you Steve, is that a couple of years ago, he entered the QLD Golden Gloves boxing tournament in Brisbane. He had three very tough fights in two days to win his way through to the final of the 65kg division. He beat previously unbeaten guys to make it to the final.
Dan was prepared, as he always is. He stayed hydrated and loose in case anything changed with the scheduling of the final, which his research told him could happen. He didn’t eat, so that his weight was right in case something changed with the scheduling.
Sure enough, he scheduling of the final fight was changed at the last minute. When Dan was called up to be there for the final, he arrived to find that his opponent had withdrawn because he had eaten and drank too much and could not be ready in time. Dan was awarded the Golden Gloves medallion.
He climbed out of the ring and threw the medallion into the garbage bin as walked out the door. He didn’t want to win it that way. Luckily, one of his mates who was there to support him, retrieved the medallion, and kept it to give to Dan when he had settled down.
When I found out about it, I rang him. He said he didn’t want to win it that way, he wanted to win it fair and square. He didn’t want to do “a Bradbury”. I reminded him of all the training he had done, many hours every day of the week, the injuries, the concussions, the stitches to his eyes and the tough fights he had to win to get to the final. And he had done all the 1 percenters to make sure he was in the best position to perform when the final came around.
That was about 6 years ago, and I have just spoken to him at length about your story and the similarities. Sure, it wasn’t an Olympic Gold Medal, but it was the pinnacle of his career.
I am happy to say that the Golden Gloves Medallion now hangs proudly in his gym. I think now, he gets it.
Thanks again Steve, all the best for the future.