Jim Redmond, who helped his son cross the finish line in an inspiring 1992 Olympics moment, dies at 81

Jim Redmond, the father who rushed to help his son in one of the most memorable and inspiring moments of the Olympics, died on Sunday at 81, according to the British Olympic Association (BOA).

The moment the BOA said will be “never forgotten” happened at the Barcelona Games in 1992, where British runner Derek Redmond clocked the best time of his 400m race. He was a favorite for medals and had already established himself as one of Britain’s top athletes. But 15 seconds into the semi-final, he pulled his hamstring and fell to the track.

Shortly after sweeping the officials and beginning to hobble heavily around the track toward the finish line, a man with no track title appeared on the race television screen. It was Derek’s father, Jim, who had rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged the officials and headed straight for his son.

Derek collapsed in his arms and they finished the race together. The International Olympic Committee called it “one of the most inspiring moments in Olympic history”.

Derek, who was 26 at the time of the Games, described the moment at the NBC Olympics in a profile leading up to the 2012 London Olympics. Via NBC Sports:

“As I was turning down the straight, I could feel this person was about to try to stop me,” Derek said. “I was about to get ready to push them back, then I heard a familiar voice from my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t have to do this.

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was kind of saying things like, ‘You don’t have to prove anything. You are a champ. You will come back. You are one of the best guys in the world. You are a true champion. You have heart. You will overcome this. We’re going to conquer the world together,” Derek recalls. “I just sort of say, ‘I can’t believe this is happening. “”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, unsure who Jim was, having removed the guns from their holsters.

“That’s the only time I heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just says, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father. “”

That same summer, Jim told Sports Illustrated:

“I did what animals do, what humans do; it’s instinctive,” Jim said. “Everyone does it. Most people happen to think about doing it, but I went out there to help.”

Derek said he figured he would finish “if this is the last race I run”. He underwent surgery and 18 months of rehabilitation, but his hamstrings never fully healed. Although he never competed on the track again, he played professional basketball and rugby 7. He worked as a motivational speaker in the decades following those Games.

With the Olympics on home soil in 2012, the London Games organizers asked Jim to be a torchbearer. It was near the family’s home town of Northampton. Derek, his family and friends rented a bus to follow Jim on the road, per SI. Derek said he joked that if Jim didn’t make it, the son would carry him.

Britain’s Derek Redmond (l) limps around the track towards the finish line after tearing his hamstring as his father Jim (right) runs after him to offer help. (Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images)

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