In memory of the hero dad from Trinidad who helped injured son cross the finish line at Olympics

Mildred Europa Taylor October 19, 2022
Jim Redmond (right) helped his injured son finish the race. Image via Olympics YouTube

Pop. Derek Redmond heard that sound and thought he had been shot. The British athlete was determined to finish the 400-meter semifinal race at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, despite realizing he had pulled his hamstring. And his dad, Jim Redmond, helped him do so, creating one of the most iconic moments in Olympic history.

Almost everyone had wanted Derek to win a medal at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, having been a favorite sprinter from England. Derek, before the 1992 games, had been a member of the 1991 English men’s relay team. In his 400-meter qualifying round, he ran the fastest time and won the quarterfinal race in Barcelona. During the semifinal race inside Estadi Olimpic de Monjuic at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, Derek was in the fifth lane, with some 65,000 spectators watching, including his father, Jim.

Derek started the race very well, but then disaster occurred just 250 meters to make it. He pulled a hamstring and began hopping. In just a few seconds, he was crushed to the ground. When he raised his head, he saw a stretcher crew coming closer. But he told himself he wasn’t going to get on it, so he stood and started half-hobbling into the final turn.

Many of his competitors had already crossed the finish line but Derek wasn’t ready to quit. And just when he felt everything he had worked for had come to an end, he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was his father, who had evaded security to enter the track in his Nike cap, blue shorts and a white T-shirt that read “Have you hugged your feet today?” 

“You don’t have to do this,” Derek recalled his father telling him, with his father’s left arm over his shoulder. “You don’t have to put yourself through this.”

But Derek wasn’t going to stop. “Well, then,” Jim said, “we’re going to finish this together.”

Derek limped over the line in tears with his father by his side. Officials tried to stop them but Jim waved them away. They met a roaring crowd by the time they crossed the finish line. The media was there to capture the historic moment. To date, the video of the moment has been viewed over a million times.

Visa produced a 2008 commercial with a video of the two which was narrated by Morgan Freeman. “Derek Redmond didn’t finish in first place in the 1992 400 meters. He didn’t finish in second, or third, or fourth. He, and his father, finished dead last. But he, and his father, finished,” Freeman is heard saying in the video.

Even though Derek was disqualified for receiving assistance, he did finish the race, with his father there to help him. Jim, who was selected as a torch bearer for the 2012 Olympics in London, said that year: “It was just a question of me getting on to help him. The Games had lost that sort of direction. It was all about winning, winning, winning. We changed it by showing we were taking part. We brought a different aspect to it without even planning it.”

Born in  Trinidad and Tobago, Jim moved to Britain when he was 15 and started work making wood packing crates. He later got a job as a driver before becoming a salesman for a meat-processing company. He subsequently formed his own machinery company: J Redmond & Son.

Today, tributes are pouring in for the late Jim, who passed away on October 2 in Northampton, England. He was 81. He is not only remembered for helping his son at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but for also breaking barriers early on in a racist society. 

His son Derek was not able to go back to racing because of injuries but he did play professional basketball for some time before becoming a motivational speaker.

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