Sports fascinates majority of us around the world for more than one reason – not only for the entertainment value they offer but also for the competitive spirit in which they are played, which is a sheer joy to watch and remembered for many years in the future.
Sports lovers who watch the game from the comfort of their home or live in a stadium can only dream of playing in front of a huge audience while their favorite sports personalities performs at his best.
It is not easy though to just go out there and play a game and represent a national team. It takes years, sometimes decades of practice, hard work, enduring rejection and failures to be even considered for the national team, let alone performing to their optimum.
For the sports performer, it is about winning at all cost. Because only the winner gets a medal and is remembered. The world does not remember the losers or whoever came last in a race.
History proved otherwise though.
Derek Redmond, a British athlete, may not have been as popular as Carl Lewis, however, there was one race he participated in which he finished last yet won hearts of 65,000 thousand spectators and millions of television viewers worldwide.
3rd August, 1992 – Barcelona
Derek was forced to pull off from the 400 meter race just 90 seconds before the start in the previous Olympics in Seoul due to Achilles tendon. He had undergone various surgeries later on but due to his determination and courage he was able to qualify for the Barcelona Olympics.
When the gun shot fired, Derek was all set to win the 400 meter race to the finals. That was not meant to be. As soon as he saw the finishing line, his Achilles tendon tore.
He screamed in agony as he rolled down the ground with pain. He knew he was not going to finish the race. The pain was not about the injury but not being able to finish the race. With years of hard work to qualify for the event, he did not want a DNF (Did Not Finish) against his name.
Among the crowd of 65,000 spectators, was his father, Jim, who could not believe his eyes when he saw his son in pain, with tears in his eyes.
While the paramedics reached the spot where Derek lied on the ground, he watched all the racers run past him. There was no way Derek was going to win the race. Yet, he was not going to give up. He was determined to finish the race, limping on one leg.
Derek’s father Jim reached the spot to help his son finish the race. Jim knew better than anyone in the crowd the pain his son had gone through to get there.
While Derek was limping on one leg, moving slowly, Jim held his son’s hand and said ‘You don’t have to do this.’ Derek kept his arm on Jim’s shoulder and cried hard, while his mother and his pregnant sister watched the father and son finish the race on television back home in England.
The 65,000 crowd stood on their feet, cheering and encouraging Derek to finish the race. When Jim saw that Derek was close to the finishing line, he let his son finish the race on his own.
Jim said in an interview later that he was more proud of his son than if he had won the medal.
Derek did not win the race but won millions of heart. Finishing the race was what mattered most.
Never before in history did anyone get to witness a poignant moment – a father-son bonding that could bring tears in your eyes.
Jim had dedicated his life and savings to help his son, Derek compete in Olympics. He stood by Derek and helped him finish the race.
Winning is not important, finishing what you set out to achieve despite all obstacles is all that matters.