Derek Redmond's Incredible Olympic Story!!

Derek Anthony Redmond didn't win a medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In fact, the British 400m runner didn't even make it past the semi-final stage. But it was his determination to finish that will live forever in the minds of millions. Injury had forced the Briton to withdraw from the 1988 Seoul Games just ten minutes before the start of his 400m heat, so Redmond felt he had everything to prove in Barcelona four years later. Not to his peers, that is but, as he later admitted, to himself.

Redmond wanted a medal whatever the colour and he started well, qualifying for the semi-finals by clocking the fastest time in his heat. As the gun signaled the start of his semi-final, Redmond charged out of the blocks, making good speed over his first 250m. At that point his right hamstring snapped. The one time British 400m record holder pulled sharply up as the rest of his field ran away from him, leaving Redmond on his knees and crippled, his Olympic dream over.

What followed, however, is one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history. Redmond got back to his feet and tried to finish the race. In an act of true courage against adversity, Redmond could only hop on one leg towards the finish line. Pain etched on his face as each step became more painful than the last, Redmond would not give up. He had promised himself and his father, that he would finish the race 'no matter what,' and he would keep that promise.

Half way to the finish line on one leg and crying with desperation, Derek was joined by his father Jim. The moment Redmond crossed the finish line brought sixty-five thousand spectators to their feet in a standing ovation, many also in tears. Few can remember that Steve Lewis of the USA won the semi-final in a time of 44.50. But no one who saw it will ever forget Derek Redmond's courage on the day he defined the essence of the human and Olympic spirit.

Derek Redmond recalls the semi-final of the 400m at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when, following a hamstring injury, his father helped him over the line.
The former British 400m record-holder, now 46, was at his peak when he lined up for the 400m semi-final in Barcelona in 1992. Here he relives the day that ended his career but made him an inspiration to millions...

When I took my place on the starting blocks I felt good.

For once I had no injuries, despite eight operations in four years, and I’d won the first two rounds without breaking sweat – including posting the fastest time in the first round heats. I was confident and when the gun went off I got off to a good start.

‘I got into my stride running round the first turn and I was feeling comfortable. Then I heard a popping sound. I kept on running for another two or three strides then I felt the pain. I thought I’d been shot, but then I recognized the agony.‘I’d pulled my hamstring before and the pain is excruciating: like someone shoving a hot knife into the back of your knee and twisting it. I grabbed the back of my leg, uttered a few expletives and hit the deck.

I couldn’t believe this was happening after all the training I’d put in. I looked around to see where the rest of the field were, and they had only 100m to go. I remember thinking if I got up I could still catch them and qualify.
‘The pain was intense. I hobbled about 50m until I was at the 200m mark. Then I realized it was all over. I looked round and saw that everyone else had crossed the finishing line. But I don’t like to give up at anything – not even an argument, as my wife will tell you – and I decided I was going to finish that race if it was the last race I ever did.

‘All these doctors and officials were coming onto the track, trying to get me to stop but I was having none of it. Then, with about 100m to go, I became aware of someone else on the track. I didn’t realize it was my dad, Jim, at first. He said, “Derek, it’s me, you don’t need to do this.”

'I just said, “Dad, I want to finish, get me back in the semi-final.” He said, “OK. We started this thing together and now we’ll finish it together.” He managed to get me to stop trying to run and just walk and he kept repeating, “You’re a champion, you’ve got nothing to prove.”

‘We hobbled over the finishing line with our arms round each other, just me and my dad, the man I’m really close to, who’s supported my athletics career since I was seven years old. I’ve since been told there was a standing ovation by the 65,000 crowd, but nothing registered at the time. I was in tears and went off to the medical room to be looked at, then I took the bus back to the Olympic village.

My dream was over. In Seoul four years earlier I didn’t even get to the start line because of an Achilles injury and had “DNS” – Did Not Start – next to my name. I didn’t want them to write “DNF” – Did Not Finish – in Barcelona. ‘When I saw my doctor he told me I’d never represent my country again. I felt like there’d been a death. I never raced again and I was angry for two years. Then one day I just thought: there are worse things than pulling a muscle in a race, and I just decided to get on with my life.
In the days after the race, Redmond received a host of messages from other competitors at the Olympics on the messaging system that had been set up. One, from a Canadian he had never met, captured the mood aptly.

"Long after the names of the medallists have faded from our minds, you will be remembered for having finished, for having tried so hard, for having a father to demonstrate the strength of his love for his son," it read. "I thank you, and I will always remember your race and I will always remember you - the purest, most courageous example of grit and determination I have seen."

For Derek Redmond, Barcelona '92 will go down as merely an accident, one final insurmountable hurdle in the way of an otherwise promising sprinting career.

For the rest of us, the image of a loving father helping to carry his son across the finish line will forever go down as a moment worthy of Olympic praise. A reminder that to be an Olympic champion doesn't mean you have to take home the gold.

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