From Jesse Owens to Jim Thorpe, and from Mark Spitz to Michael Phelps, the Olympics have long been a source of inspirational, sports feel good stories.
One of those truly inspiring stories happened in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Derek Redmond, a British sprinter, came into the Olympic games favored to win the 400. Feeling he was in the best shape of his life, despite some 8 operations on his Achilles tendons over the past 4 years, he was confident of his abilities. His dad Jim, in attendance for the games, had high hopes. Derek and his dad were very tight. Jim made it to most of Derek’s races.
Derek won his heat in the quarter finals and posted the fastest time. In the semis, Derek gets off to a good start. As he rounded the first bend in the track, Derek came up limping as his hamstring snapped. Feeling like he had been shot, Derek came to a halt. His leg would not work properly.
Track officials with stretchers approached him, but Derek waved them off.
Derek said in the The Guardian, “Everything I had worked for was finished. I hated everybody. I hated the world. I hated hamstrings. I hated it all. I felt so bitter that I was injured again. I told myself I had to finish. I kept hopping round. Then, with 100 metres to go, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was my old man.”
Derek hopped on one leg for for a ways before his father rushed by security and came to his aid. Leaning on his father, they made it around the track. His father let Derek finish the last steps before the finish line on his own.
As Derek was aided in his race, the official record lists his attempt as “Did Not Finish.” However, to the 65,000 fans in attendance, not only did he finish; he showed the true Olympic spirit. The crowd gave Derek and his dad a standing ovation.
While over the course of his career, Derek won many races, he’ll always be best remembered for a race that he “did not finish.”
Derek Redmond’s Olympic Moment