Derek Redmond was a hugely talented, but desperately unlucky, athlete, whose career was constantly unterrupted by serious injury, often requiring surgery, which prevented him from achieving the success he might otherwise have enjoyed. A specialist 400-metre runner, Redmond twice broke the British record for that distance, running 44.82 seconds at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway in July, 1985 and 44.50 seconds at the IAAF World Championships in Rome, Italy in September, 1987.
The following year, at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Redmond was forced to withdraw from his heat with an Achilles tendon injury. Redmond gained consolation at the IAAF World Championships in Tokyo, Japan in 1991; alongside compatriots Roger Black, John Regis and Kriss Akabusi, he was part of the Great Britain team that beat the hotly-fancied USA team to the gold medal in the men’s 4 x 400-metre relay.
Despite eight operations in the interim, Redmond arrived at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, injury free. He comfortably won his heat, in 45.03 seconds, and his quarter-final, in 45.02 seconds, and was in confident mood when he lined up for his semi-final. However, down the back straight down, just as he appeared to be making serene progress towards his first Olympic final, he heard a pop and, strides later, felt excrutiating pain in his right hamstring. Redmond grabbed the back of his injured leg and fell to the track, his Olympic dreams in tatters.
Nevertheless, determined to finish his race, Redmond waved away medical personnel and, slowly, clambered to his feet. Limping painfully, he was joined at the top of home straight by his father, Jim, who had made his way onto the track and helped him hobble, tearfully, to within a few feet of the finish line. With the race long since over, officially, Redmond crossed the line, under his own steam, to rapturous applause.