One Of The Most Iconic Olympics Moments Ever Technically Did Not Happen

Over the decades, the Olympics have brought with them more than their share of memorable moments. There have been incidents of heartbreak, incidents of cheating, incidents of good sportsmanship writ large, and even incidents that were microcosms of geopolitical conflicts going on at the time, such as the USA defeating the Soviets in ice hockey in the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" (highlights on YouTube).

A couple of times, the Olympics have shown the resilience of athletes in the face of overwhelming defeat. For example, at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1998, the famed Jamaican bobsled team crashed their vehicle and then, in a show of resilience, stood up and walked the damaged vehicle to the finish line (also via YouTube).

A similar incident had taken place a few years earlier, not at the Winter Olympics, but the Summer edition. As Smooth Radio reports, Derek Redmond suffered a devastating injury during a race, and in a tear-jerking moment for the ages, his father helped his son hobble to the finish line. What happens live in front of millions of spectators is one thing; how these things are written down in the record books is another. And as it turns out, the record books have deemed that the incident never actually happened. Sort of.

Derek Redmond's injury

Back in 1992, according to the International Olympics Committee, Derek Redmond represented England at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Over the course of his career he'd been bedeviled by multiple injuries, including one on his Achilles tendon just a few months before the race. Regardless, in his initial appearances in the games that year, Redmond did well, posting two good times in his first two heats, according to ESPN.

During his semifinal heat in the 400-meter race, his father among the 65,000 fans in the stadium that day, Redmond was nearing the finish line when he suffered another devastating injury. He tore his hamstring, an excruciatingly painful injury that has ruined more than one career. Redmond fell to the ground in pain.

In what would go down as one of the most memorable moments of the Olympics, Derek's father, Jim, "barged past security," as Smooth Radio describes it, and comforted his sobbing son. Derek, determined to finish the race, and supported by his father, hobbled along for a bit, before Jim let Derek finish the race by himself (also posted on YouTube). There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Unfortunately, the record books say the incident didn't actually happen.

The aftermath

Tens of thousands of people in the stands that day, and untold millions of people watching at home, saw Derek Redmond and his father finish the race that day. Except in a technical sense, he didn't finish it. As Smooth Radio explains, he was disqualified due to his father helping him, and so the Olympics' record books state that Redmond "did not finish" the race.

Regardless of the Olympics' no-nonsense approach to technicalities, the organization and its sponsors did manage to get quite a bit of mileage out of the event. The incident was included in the International Olympic Committee's series of "Celebrate Humanity" videos, which stated: "Strength is measured in pounds. Speed is measured in seconds. Courage? You can't measure courage." He was also featured in a Visa commercial (posted on YouTube).

Redmond's injury did, in fact, end his racing career. He went on to try his hand at basketball and motorsports, and according to his website now works as a motivational speaker. His father, Jim, died October 4 at the age of 81 (per NPR).