Derek Redmond was a great runner, but he was an even greater finisher. Derek will be forever remembered for his staggering performance in the 400-meter men’s semifinals during the summer Olympics of 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.
After years of training, persistence, and self-discipline, Derek was competing on the world stage. His dream had become a reality. Halfway through his 400 meter race, Derek pulled a hamstring muscle and collapsed on the track. Writhing in pain, he watched the other runners quickly pass him and his dream of winning die, but staying down wasn’t in Derek’s blood. Though winning was out of the question, finishing wasn’t.
As the medical crew arrived with a stretcher, Derek said, “There’s no way I’m getting on that stretcher. I’m going to finish my race.”
In a stadium packed with 65 thousand fans and with millions viewing around the world, Derek slowly struggled to his feet. In spite of the agonizing pain, he began hobbling towards the finish line in last place. Tears streamed down his face as his heart filled with disappointment. Yet, he was determined to finish the race.
At that point, a large man from the top row of the stands began to run towards the track. It was Tim Redmond, Derek’s father, disregarding security guards, running over people, determined that no one would stop him, he ran to his son’s side. At first Derek tried to push him away, not realizing it was his father. He thought someone was trying to get him to quit the race.
“Derek it’s me.”
Recognizing that familiar voice Derek said, “Dad, I have to finish the race.”
“If you’re gonna finish the race, then we’ll finish it together.” With those words, his father took his son in his arms, and together they began to hobble down the track. By this time, the other runners had completed the race, and the crowd realized that Derek wasn’t hobbling off the track, but rather he was hobbling towards the finish line on one leg with his father at his side. In total disbelief, 65,000 fans stood to their feet and began to cheer. The roar of the crowd increased with every painful step.
Approaching the finish line, Jim Redmond stepped aside to allow Derek to cross by himself. The crowd exploded into thunderous applause and emotional release. Derek collapsed in his father’s embrace, and both wept on each other’s shoulders, along with 65,000 fans and millions of viewers. Derek had finished a race the world would never forget.