The story of a champion- Derek Redmond
If one were to list the achievements of Derek Anthony Redmond they would find that this man won gold and silvers in the World Championships and Commonwealth games in the field of track and running. They would also learn that he once held the British record for the 400m race. However the critics would say that not winning an Olympic gold is a blemish on Derek’s athletic career. What the critics would not see is how this man emerged a champion in the face of defeat with the help of his father, Jim Redmond. How he persevered despite having the odds being stacked against him. Only those present at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic semi final 400m race or a few who stumble upon the haunting video of him completing the race would learn about his heroism.
Redmond first broke the British record for the 400 metres in 1985 with a run of 44.82 seconds. This record was subsequently broken by Roger Black, but Redmond reclaimed the record in 1987 with a run of 44.50 seconds. The record lasted until 1992.
Before the 1992 Olympics, he had undergone eight operations due to injuries. However, he was in good form by the time of the event. He posted the fastest time of the first round, and went on to win his quarter-final. In the semi-final, Redmond started well, but in the back straight about 250 metres from the finish, his hamstring snapped. He hobbled to a halt, and then fell to the ground in pain. Stretcher bearers made their way over to him, but Redmond decided he wanted to finish the race. He began to hobble along the track. He was soon joined on the track by his father, Jim Redmond, who barged past security and on to the track to get to his son. Jim and Derek completed the lap of the track together, with Derek leaning on his father’s shoulder for support. As they crossed the finish line, the crowd of 65,000 spectators rose to give Derek a standing ovation.
Redmond told his father “I’ve got to finish this race.” His father said “If you’re gonna finish the race, we’ll finish it together.”
Redmond’s struggle in the 1992 semi-final later became the subject of one of the International Olympic Committee’s ‘Celebrate Humanity’ videos. In 2008, Redmond was featured in a Visa advertisement promoting the Olympic Games. The advertisement highlights his 1992 injury, noting that “he and his father finished dead last, but he and his father finished”.
Two years after the Olympics in Barcelona, he was told by a surgeon that he would never run again or represent his country in sport. However after coming to terms with the loss of athletics as a career, he began to turn his attention, with the encouragement of his father, to other sports that he enjoyed. After trials at several basketball clubs, he secured a place on the Great Britain national basketball team. He sent a signed photo of the team to the surgeon that had assured him he would never represent his country in sport again. After playing basketball professionally, he turned his attention to rugby, another of his favourite sports and managed to reach division 1 with the intention of representing Great Britain professionally in three different disciplines of sport. However, after completing trials for the England Sevens team, he was denied a place on the squad.
Redmond currently serves as Director of Development for sprints and hurdles for UK Athletics, and also works as a motivational speaker.
Today Redmond does motivational speaking on the conference circuit, inspiring people with the story of the 4×400 gold medal triumph and his famous ordeal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
On January 10, 2012, his father Jim was announced that he will be one of the Olympic torch bearers in London during the summer games.
Derek Redmond is an excellent example of the human spirit of never giving up. No doctor or injury could pull him away from his ambition to represent his country, be it running track or dribbling a basketball. He teaches as that in life you may lose a duel but if you keep working you will never lose the war.
Please view the clip below to see the undying spirit of Derek Redmond.