A Fathers Love
Jim Redmond was more than a father to Derek Redmond. He was his best friend and the two of them were inseparable. Derek was one of the best 400 meter runners in the world! At the age of 19 he had shattered the British record. Jim knew what Derek was feeling as the 1992 Olympics were about to start in Barcelona. In the 1988 games Derek had to withdraw from the 400-meter race just 10 minutes before it started because of an Achilles tendon injury. Over the next year he went through 5 surgeries. To say that he was determined to make good in the 1992 Olympics would be an understatement. To win a medal after all of the pain he went through and all of the hard work was the only thing he was thinking of.
Jim had been there for all of the world competitions leading up to the Olympics that Derek competed in! He was his best friend, counselor, motivator, and loving father. The stadium was packed with 65,000 fans and Jim had a seat at the top of Olympic Stadium. This would be the race that would put Derek into the Olympic final heat and Jim was determined to run the race with Derek from his seat. You see when Derek ran the two of them were so close that it seemed his father was running right next to him!
Earlier that day Jim and Derek had talked. They talked about ignoring the past failures and heartbreaks and concentrating on the task before them. They talked about all of the hard work that Derek had put in to prepare for the event. They talked about everything even the unthinkable. If anything bad happens, Derek would finish the race no matter what. Now Jim is sitting in his place high up in the stadium waiting, watching, and anticipating the start of the race. He is as nervous as if he himself were running and in his mind he is going to be with his son every step of the way!
The top four finishers in each of the semifinal heats qualify for the Olympic final. The race begins and Derek quickly takes the lead. Jim is in a zone as if running every step of the way with his son! Keep it up he urges as Derek reaches the halfway point. Then without warning the unthinkable happens. Derek hears a pop in his right hamstring. He hops on his good leg before falling on the track. The other runners finish their race and leave Derek laying on the track in pain. When Jim see’s his son in trouble he races as fast as he can down the bleachers. He is dodging people and bumping into people along the way. He keeps moving forward. Without any credentials to be on the track Jim finally gets to the bottom row of the bleachers and races onto the track. Security people start chasing him but he won’t be stopped.
The medical crew arrives with a stretcher but Derek tells them that he will not use it. “I’m going to finish the race”, he said. Derek pushes himself to his feet and begins the long journey of hobbling to the finish line. With about 120 meters to go Jim finally reaches him. “I’m here son and we will finish together”, he tells his son. Derek uses his fathers shoulder to cry on and to lean on. As the two of them struggle toward the finish line the 65,000 fans are going crazy! Just before they reach the finish line Jim lightens his grip and Derek goes through the finish line alone. Once he crosses the line Jim and Derek embrace again as their tears are felt by thousands at the event and millions watching on TV.
If you look in the medal winners for the 400 meter run in the 1992 Olympics you won’t find the name of Derek Redmond. Yet because of his determination and courage and the love of his father, his name will always be associated with what the Olympics are about! Pierre De Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, believed that ‘The important thing in life is not to triumph, but to compete,’ and encouraged everyone to compete against themselves. His sentiment was institutionalised in the Olympic motto which challenges each individual to become the best they can: ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ (Faster, Higher, Stronger).
The Olympic games in London will be here soon. Athletes from all over the world will be vying for medals. Some of their names will be on every tongue for a little while. Whatever the results and the fame that these athletes will attain for the moment their moment will pass. It has been twenty years since Derek Redmond fell on the track. Derek Redmond did not win a medal in that Olympics. Yet, of all of the people that competed, his name is still remembered. His father Jim responded as our heavenly father does with us. He was someone with compassion that was there to be leaned on. He was there to help Derek finish the race.
When we feel the most discouraged, if we look beside us we will see him. It is our heavenly father wiping away our tears. He is always there for us to lean on as we finish our race. Every step of the way he’ll be our strength. When we feel we can’t go on he will lift us to new heights. He is there in good times and bad and his love never wavers. When our race is done he will say to us “Well done good and faithful servant.”