Basil Zempilas tells West Perth lunch of inspiration from Steven Bradbury’s gold medal

Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard, Basil Zempilas and West Perth president Brett Raponi.
Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard, Basil Zempilas and West Perth president Brett Raponi.

He was speaking at a Falcons lunch ahead of the West Coast Eagles-Fremantle clash at Arena Joondalup on Tuesday, almost 12 years to the day he called that famous gold medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics – a highlight of his 20-year career with Channel 7.

He spoke of Bradbury initially not knowing how to take the victory after his more fancied opponents crashed at the final corner and gifted him the gold.

“Bradbury sat there motionless and then he thought bugger this, I’m not accepting this gold medal for that three and half minutes out on the ice, clearly I wasn’t the best skater in the field,” Zempilas said.

“But I’m going to get up there and accept this Olympic gold medal for the 12 years I gutsed it out when I could have easily given it away. For the time I had a broken neck, the time I cut the vein in my leg just about in half (in training mishaps)…. I’m going to stand proudly, stick my chest out, and say, you know what, I’ve represented my country for 12 years and I’m accepting this winter Olympic Games gold medal, the first of my country, for those reasons.’

Zempilas said he learnt from Bradbury you did not have to be the very best at what you did.

“But what you do have to do is put yourself in the race, what Bradbury did, and this applies to sport, business, media, administration, it applies to everything,” he said.

“I guarantee one thing, some won’t even get to the start line because they will look at the start line and they’ll go ‘that race is too hard, I don’t belong in there’. Put yourself in the race, try your hardest, you never know what might happen.

“Perhaps (2013 premiers) West Perth weren’t the best team last year in the WAFL competition but by gee they put themselves in the race.”

He finished his talk with a list of his top AFL players recruited from West Perth since 1987 “when the West Coast Eagles changed the face of the WA Football League”.