71: What Any Father Would Do

71: What Any Father Would Do

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

What Any Father Would Do

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.

~Charles R. Swindoll,
The Strong Family

Jim Redmond did what any father would do. His child needed help. It was that simple. The Olympic Games have the kind of security that thousands of policemen and metal detectors can offer. But no venue is safe, when a father sees his son’s dream drifting away.

“One minute I was running,” Derek Redmond of Great Britain said. “The next thing there was a pop. I went down.”

Derek, twenty-six, had waited for this four-hundred-meter semifinal for at least four years. In Seoul, he had an Achilles tendon problem. He waited until a minute-and-a-half before the race began before he would admit he couldn’t run.

In November 1990, Derek underwent operations on both Achilles tendons. He has had five surgeries in all. But he came back. In the first two rounds, he had run 45.02 and 45.03, his fastest times in five years.

“I really wanted to compete in my first Olympics,” Redmond said. “I was feeling great. It just came out of the blue.”

Halfway around the track, Redmond lay sprawled across lane five, his right hamstring gone bad.

Redmond struggled to his feet and began hobbling around the track. The winner of the heat, defending Olympic champion Steve Lewis, had finished and headed toward the tunnel. So had the other six runners. But the last runner in the heat hadn’t finished. He continued to run.

Jim Redmond (Derek’s dad), sitting high in the stands at Olympic Stadium, saw Derek collapse.

“You don’t need accreditation in an emergency,” Redmond said.

So Redmond, a forty-nine-year-old machine-shop owner in Northampton, ran down the steps and onto the track.

“I was thinking,” Jim Redmond said, “I had to get him there so he could say he finished the semifinal.”

The crowd realized that Derek Redmond was running the race of his life. Around the stands, from around the world, the fans stood and honored him with cheers.

At the final turn, Jim Redmond caught up to his son and put his arm around him. Derek leaned on his dad’s right shoulder and sobbed. But they kept going. An usher attempted to intercede and escort Jim Redmond off the track. If ever a futile mission had been undertaken...

They crossed the finish line, father and son, arm in arm.

~Ivan Maisel
Chicken Soup for the Father’s Soul

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