Coming up on the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics on July 27, I’m reminded of a story I didn’t quite pay attention to until I became a father.
Derek Redmond is a retired British athlete who held the British record for the 400 meters sprint, and won gold medals in the 4×400 meters relay at the World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games.
He’s most notably remembered for his performance at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona where he tore his hamstring in the 400 meters semi-final but fought through the pain and, with assistance from his father, managed to complete a full lap of the track as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Twenty years later, Derek’s father is being honored in a very special way.
“It was just a question of me getting on to help him. The world interpreted that in a different light,” said Derek’s father, Jim Redmond. “The games had lost that sort of direction. It was all about winning, winning, winning. We changed it by showing we were taking part… we brought a different aspect to it without even planning it.”
The moment was even cited by U.S. President Barack Obama in a speech highlighting the importance of the Olympics three years ago when Chicago was bidding for the 2016 Games.
There’s a bunch of videos out there of the 1992 event with rehashed motivational text and Josh-Groban-inspiring background music that have the potential to make you cry like a little girl. I could post one of those videos but I tend to avoid promoting other people’s agendas that don’t sit well.
Here’s a video that is half interview, half footage which I believe was seen on BBC Sport some time ago.
Twenty years after helping his injured son across the finish line in Barcelona, Derek’s father Jim Redmond was selected last Tuesday to carry the Olympic flame during the torch relay for the London Games.
For Jim, this is a tremendous honor for an unbelievably touching story with the Olympics being centered around London. Redmond was chosen by British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt while Paul Mears was nominated by BOA chairman Lord Moynihan for maintaining a bedside vigil for son Chris, after the diver was seriously hurt in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The fathering pair were nominated for showing “dedication and support to their children’s sporting careers”. Mr Hunt said, “It was a truly iconic moment. It represented what the Olympic spirit was about. It was an example of what it’s like for parents to support through good and difficult times.”
Derek may have finished last in the ’92 Olympics, but his father helped him finish first in our hearts.
This is a reminder to think about what finish line your father carried you through. If you have a story of your own, feel free to share it in the comments below.