The Race of a Lifetime

Most of us enjoy the atmosphere of the Olympics. I especially enjoy the footraces. When athletes line up and crouch down at the starting line, they’re not just representing their country and family. They are representing a life dedicated to excellence. They might have only a few seconds on the television screen, but they have trained a lifetime for it. For the past four years, they rose early in the morning before daybreak and drove to a desolate track to work on their form. While their friends were out wining and dining, they were in the living room doing crunches. They always pumped iron one more time than they had to. Their bodies ached every night as they lay in bed only to look forward to doing it again the next day.

Which makes the story of Derek Redmond even more significant. In 1992, he got his dream a chance for gold at the Olympics. As he knelt to begin the race, his eyes fixed on the finish line and he knew he could win. When the gun sounded, Derek accelerated past the other runners, then fell straight to the ground. He had torn a hamstring. All the work of the past four years – gone. The other sprinters ran by while he writhed in pain.

Then a lone figure emerged from the stands. He lifted sobbing Derek up and then, to a roaring crowd, both hobbled across the finish line. As you might have guessed, this man was Derek’s father.

You see, Derek’s dad could have had a number of reactions. He could have been angry. Here was a chance for Derek to win gold and he had gone and hurt himself. All the time and energy and care he had poured into Derek was now snapped like his son’s hamstring. Or was it?

He could have been petrified what will the crowd think if I go out there? Will they boo me and my son? Will they jeer?

Or, as Derek’s dad did, he could just not care what others thought or about his own ambition. The only thing he cared about was the welfare of his son. Derek’s Olympic race is a parable of what fatherhood is all about. Children never run alone. They are products of the time, training and care of their parents. And they should be products of unconditional love. The kind of love that doesn’t care what a crowd of 70,000 thinks. Or a world-wide audience for that matter.

Derek didn’t win the gold in 1992. But he has something far more valuable a strong bond with his father. And that, more than anything, will help him succeed in the race of life.