Hometime Hoot: Today It's Not Funny, But Aussie Olympian Daniel Greig Offers A Life Lesson For All

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Speed skater Daniel Greig’s Olympic debut didn’t go to plan, but he got up and completed the race Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Business Insider was sitting on the lounge just after 1am last night, ready to cheer on 22-year-old, Adelaide-born Daniel Greig in the 500m speed skating.

Greig is one of those Aussie battler stories that makes you proud – the ability to triumph over circumstance and strive for your dream.

In 2007, he was the gold medal winner Junior World Inline Speed Skating Championships, 200m time trial, also scoring silver at 300m and bronze in the 500m sprint. He won gold again in 2008.

But his dream was to be an Olympian and since the Five Rings festival doesn’t include land (inline) skating, he moved to the Netherlands, aged 17, to learn how to ice skate.

At first he was left in the wake of kids half his size. It was embarrassing, but last year, Greig really began to hit his straps, cracking the top 10 in the 500m, then, a few weeks ago in Nagano, Japan, at the 2014 World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, he took home two 500m silver medals.

So the commentators were talking him up as a medal chance when he took to the rink for his Olympic debut last night.

But just 10 steps and two seconds into the race, it was all over when the front tip of his left skate dug into the ice and he face-planted before curling up in a ball, painfully aware that four years of training and hard work had vanished in the blink of an eye.

There are no words… Photo Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

And a nation’s heart broke with his.

“It never crossed my mind even in the weeks or days before, that scenario never crossed my mind. I almost didn’t believe it,” he said.

But here’s the bit that reminds you why sport is such an apt metaphor for life, and especially business. As his rival, Japan’s Yuya Oikawa, finished, Greig got up to slowly complete the 35-second race in just over 80 seconds, to the applause and encouragement of the crowd.

As Nelson Mandela said in his autobiography: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.

“I was always going to finish the race. Just if you have a mistake, if you decide to pull out, it is a disrespect to your other competitors. Because they are in the race and the race is all about staying on your feet too. So if no one finishes the race when something doesn’t go right, there wouldn’t be anyone left,” he said.

Because he finished, Greig was able to compete in the second of the two race series. He was out of the medals, with the winner decided on combined times, but he posted a respectable 35.29, although he was still hard on himself, having previously broken the 34-second barrier, describing the time “sub-par” – partly because he didn’t quite trust himself and his footing at the start.

Daniel Greig gets back up to speed in his second race. Photo Photo Robert Cianflone/Getty Images.

On the upside, Greig’s good mate Michel Mulder won gold with a combined time of 69.312 seconds and the Aussie was the first one to offer congrats and a hug.

The Dutch had a clean sweep of the medals with Mulder’s twin brother, Ronald, taking bronze.

Meanwhile, Greig is back on the ice on Wednesday for the 1000m race.

Got get ’em dashing Dan.
Safe trip home all, stay upright and see you tomorrow.

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