On the morning of August 4th, 1992, Derek Redmond woke up with a feeling that he was about to run the race of his life. The British sprint runner had traveled to Barcelona, Spain, to compete in the 400 meter sprint at the Olympics. Although Redmond had battled injuries before, he felt fine.
He remembers thinking that he felt so great that he just might win the race. As the race began, Derek pushed off the starting blocks, passed a few rivals, and was positioned to take the lead.
But when he got to the back straight, just 250 meters away from the finish line, Derek heard a loud snap. Two strides later, he knew what had happened. Incredible pain began to overtake his body.
His hamstring had torn. Redmond slowed down, came to a stop, and fell on the ground in pain.
For most of us, that’s where the race would have ended.
We would have waited there in pain for someone to come to our side and help us off the track and look at the injury. We would have complained as we watched everyone else finish the race but us.
But it was in that moment that Redmond had a thought. He remembered why he was there. He decided to finish the race. Not because he could win. Because he wanted to finish what he started.
So Redmond got back on his feet and started hobbling down the stretch.
They say that if you’re brave, mighty forces will come to your aid. And as Derek Redmond struggled to make it to the finish line, a mighty force did appear. Derek sensed someone to his left.
It was his father who joined his son as officials tried to get the two off the track. “The race is over,” you can almost hear them saying as you watch the video. But Derek and his dad ignored them.
“Get me back in lane five,” Derek remembers yelling to his father as the two approached the finish line and Derek’s dad told Olympic officials to leave them alone so his son could finish the race. It was only after Derek crossed over the finish line that he noticed the cameras and a crowd of sixty-five thousand standing on their feet cheering him on, with millions more watching across the world.
Olympic officials marked Derek’s performance as “Did Not Finish,” effectively disqualified since his father had helped him get to the finish line. Somebody else won the gold, silver, and bronze. I don’t know any of the names of the athletes who won those medals. You probably don’t, either.
But I know who won that race.
It was Derek and his father, Jim Redmond. And as much as this story is about Derek, it’s also about his father and how as a parent, you help your child achieve their dreams, no matter what.
And Derek was right. It was the race of his life.