Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son Derek across the finish line of the 400m semifinal at Barcelona 1992 in one of the Olympic Games’ most poignant and iconic moments, has died at age 81, his family announced.
“It is with great sadness that I am writing this post to share the news that my hero, best friend my father has passed away,” Derek wrote on Instagram Tuesday.
“There is so much I could say about this man but he was truly one of my heroes in life, anyone who knows me or has heard me present will know how much he inspired me in my life, how close we were and what he meant to me. To say he will be greatly missed is a true understatement.”
Before he became injured in the semifinal, Derek had been one of Team Great Britain’s brightest medal hopes in Spain.
He had qualified fastest in the first round and won his quarterfinal, continuing the form he had displayed the previous year as part of the 4x400m relay squad that won a gold medal at the world championships.
But, as he passed the 250m mark of his semifinal, Derek tore his hamstring – his second consecutive Olympic disappointment after an Achilles injury four years earlier.
As his competitors crossed the line, Derek hauled himself off the floor and began hobbling towards the finish line alone until his father emerged from the stands, waving off the attentions of stewards, to help.
Images and clips of Jim consoling his son as they crossed the finish line accompanied by a standing ovation have since become iconic and used as an emblem of the ‘Olympic spirit.’
A video shared by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2016 accumulated 110 million views in just a year, according to Derek’s official website, while former US President Barack Obama used the moment in a speech as an example of “when the human spirit triumphed over injury that should have been impossible to overcome.”
Tributes poured in from across the sporting world for Jim, who later went on to be a torch bearer at the 2012 London Games.
“Our thoughts are with Derek Redmond and his family following the death of his father, Jim. Together, they brought us one of the most inspirational moments in Olympic history,” the IOC said.
“I remember this so clearly,” four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson, part of the victorious United States 4x400m relay team in Barcelona, said. “The love and support Derek’s dad had for his son was on full display in front of the world in that difficult moment. Condolences to Derek and his family.”