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A last place finish worth more than gold

06/21/2015, 1:45am CDT
By Al Buczkowski

1992 Olympic Games. Barcelona. Men’s 400 meter semi-finals. British runner Derek Redmond sprints to an early lead. Then, suddenly clutching the back of his right leg, he drops to his knees.

As a blur of runners vanishes ahead of him, so too does an Olympic dream a lifetime in the making, gone with the snap of a hamstring.

And that’s where the 65,000 in attendance expected Redmond's story to end – 250 meters from the finish line. Instead, it’s where one of the most profoundly touching moments in Olympic history begins.

Deciding to get back to his feet and complete the race, Derek Redmond begins hopping towards the finish line, determined to continue on through the overwhelming pain.

Though he had set the British record for the 400 meter twice and helped his team shock the heavily favored Americans in the 4x400 at the 1991 World Championships, injuries had robbed him of more, including a bad achilles that forced him out of the 1988 Summer Games.

Now, injury had taken away his chance at redemption.

"All I could think was, 'I'm out of the Olympics -- again," Redmond would later recall.

With winning out of the question, simply crossing the finish line becomes his new objective. And as he hobbles his way through the final bend, he finds a surprise source of strength at his side – his dad.

After bolting from his seat, hurdling over the guardrail and rushing through security, Jim Redmond now walks side by side with his injured son, supporting Derek's weight and providing a shoulder to cry on as they slowly make their way through the final stretch to a standing ovation.

Though Derek Redmond is disqualified due to his dad being on the track, the race is remembered as a moment that not only transcends sport, but also gets to the heart of what it truly means to dedicate yourself – as an athlete and a father.


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    Al Buczkowski

    About the Author

    Alan Buczkowski is a copywriter in the Sport Ngin marketing department with a background in sports journalism. He brings the trends, topics, and inspirational stories from the world of youth sports to Sport Ngin Community.

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    Tag(s): News