LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 04: A detail view of the specially commissioned poster by Rachel Whiteread during the unveiling of the Official Olympic and Paralympic Posters For London 2012 Olympic Games at Tate Britain on November 4, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
I was merely a senior in high school with the 1992 Olympics took place in Barcelona and there was one moment during those Olympics when I was truly moved and had an indelible effect on me even today. I mentioned the last time that I had one of these writing assignments, that the answer can sometimes be obvious, and maybe there is no fun in that. I have strong memories of the original Dream Team, or Michael Johnson effortlessly gliding along, but the most last moment for me, is Derek Redmond and his father, Jim, finishing the 400m together. During the backstretch of the race, Redmond pulls up in the semi-final race with a torn hamstring with approximately 175m to go and cannot finish the race.
Redmond then gets up and starts hopping on one leg to the finish line and then Redmond's father, Jim, runs out on the track. It's funny some of the race officials tried to initially steer Derek off of the track, but he was determined to finish the race. You can see in the video how when Jim approaches Derek that Derek thinks it is the track officials yet again and once he realizes that it is his father, he bursts into tears as Jim helps carry Derek to the finish line.
I've gone around and around about the video, and I suppose that it is cliche to remember a moment that is the definition of the "agony of defeat", but it's a memory that's stuck with me for the past twenty years of my life. It's one that I remember being on the couch and watching the games and seeing Redmond pull up and thinking that he wasn't going to be able to finish. Ten years after the race, Redmond watched the video with the Guardian and at the moment that his father arrived, all Redmond could think about was how much he hated the world and getting into his proper lane:
'It was the last thing I was expecting. When my dad told me I didn't need to do this, I told him just to help me get back into my correct lane. In that case, he said, we would finish the race together. He says he didn't think it was the time or the place for a domestic dispute, so he did what I wanted. It never occurred to me that the crowd would react to what was going on as they did. I was oblivious to everything except trying to finish.'
I don't know what the moral of Redmond's story. Redmond didn't win anything and some might even consider Redmond a perennial failure because he constantly battled injuries during his career. Still, Redmond eventually ended up making Great Britain national team in basketball and almost made the rugby England Sevens. I suppose that the lesson learned is that perseverance sometimes isn't just a moment, it's not just finishing a race, but perseverance takes time.
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