After sleepless nights of hard work, training and drills, athletes have one thing in mind, winning! Ask the Olympians who start preparing for the next Olympic, 4 years after the present one has been decided, the aim is to win because that’s the only way you can stay relevant in the sport. Here’s the thing, beyond taking center stage where you wave at the cameras and the spotlights hunt your face, winning is a thing of the mind.
Athletes have one thing in common, tears and the taste of defeat. The emotional outburst of winning or losing even affects you as a fan, you just want to know what’s going on in the mind of the man on the podium or the man kneeling and clutching the grass.
Such was it with the talented Derek Redmond, the athlete famous for his 1992 Olympics outing. 6 months after the event, Derek claimed people still walk up to him in1993 “it’s nice to know that they care, I’ll not just want to be remembered for that, I’ll like to put it behind me” he said.
Derek’s 2 Olympics ended in utter disappointment and despair, right there on the grandest of stages with millions of spectators. As he prepared for the 400m semifinals in the1992 Barcelona Olympics, little did he know he would complete the race in tears with his dad as a crutch.
Redmond missed the Edinburg edition of the commonwealth games in 1986 due to an injury, he had to withdraw from the 1988 Seoul Olympics after failing to recover from another injury where 2 shots of painkillers couldn’t do the trick. After series of injuries, thoughts of quitting the sport had crossed his mind but like every other athlete he decided to have a go at the 1992 Olympics.
On the eve of the games, Derek had discussed with his father and his coach and was in a very high spirit, “I was feeling 100% before the race” he said years after in 2006. At the blast of the pistol, Derek approached the race with his normal tactics. Just as he navigated around the track bend, about 3 strides later the ghost of injuries spooked his thighs again, lo it was a hamstring!
Collapsing to the floor like every athlete, the redcross were already dashing towards him to provide the necessary medical attention. Redmond got up as quick as a tennis ball would and said “ there’s no way I’m going to be stretchered out of this Olympics”.
Startling, Derek started limping with the hopes of qualification still intact, “I believed I could limp faster to overtake 4 people”. Once Derek hit the ground, his father Jim , involved in his son’s road to the Olympics, started tussling his way towards the tracks. “I had thought my mind was playing tricks on me Jim said, I handed my camera to his coach and dashed”
Jim appeared beside Derek and said, “Son stop,(in order not to aggravate the injury) we are going to finish this together”. They approached the finish line as Jim looked up and his son slouched in anguish.
The crowds cheered in adulation and emotions, they had never seen anything close to that. Before the pistol Derek had one thing in mind, winning. He however won, although in an unprecedented fashion. Crossing the line was all he needed, and he did.
Derek and Linford Christie Britain’s team captain met as the latter was leaving the stadium. The pair had bad blood between but on that day in front of the cameras at Barcelona’s Estadi Olympic, both hugged and tears started to roll down.
It’s not always about coming first, it’s about winning.
Thanks to Jim the crutch, the spectators that cheered, and Linford who empathized, Derek was able to beat the hamstring in a duel he was determined to win.
Never quit, don’t engage in self-pity, self-acrimony is toxic, rather in difficult situations, pick the positives and exploit them.
Make the most of every circumstance, Keith Harrel, the towering motivational speaker whose dream was to be a professional NBA player wasn’t drafted for his college, Keith afterwards became a painter. During his time as a painter, Keith would tell people he had a job with the NBA till he was asked what he meant and he smiled and said, “Natural Born Abilities”.
We all have to taste defeat but we don’t have to be a sore loser, we have to be kind.
We all can’t come first but we all can win, it’s all about the mind.