Redmond Snr ready to inspire Games again

 

Twenty years after helping his injured son cross the finish line in Barcelona, Jim Redmond was selected yesterday to carry the Olympic flame during the torch relay for the London Games.

Redmond is one of the British Olympic Association's nominated torchbearers for the 8,000-mile nationwide relay that starts in May and culminates with the lighting of the cauldron during the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in London on 27 July.

Redmond created one of the most emotional moments in Olympic history in 1992 with his spontaneous act to help his crying, injured son during a semi-final of the 400 metres.

With Derek Redmond hobbling badly with a torn hamstring, his father ran on to the track and virtually carried him the rest of the way.

"I saw my [son] having a problem and it was my duty to help," Redmond said yesterday, standing beneath the 1948 London Olympic flame at Wembley Stadium. "I actually went on the track to try to stop him inflicting further damage to himself. It was Derek's idea.... He asked me to get him back in that lane and I offered him a shoulder to lean on."

The moment was cited by US President Barack Obama in a speech highlighting the importance of the Olympics three years ago when Chicago was bidding for the 2016 Games.

"It was just a question of me getting on to help him. The world interpreted that in a different light," the elder Redmond said. "The games had lost that sort of direction. It was all about winning, winning, winning. We changed it by showing we were taking part. We brought a different aspect to it without even planning it."

The father hopes the roles aren't reversed next summer. "We had a joke about it this morning over the phone," Redmond said. "He said they should invite me to do it and this time I will help you. I said, 'You are probably right.'

"But I am not going to break down because I intend to be the slowest person. [Derek] didn't win the race and created a lot of attention afterwards so I have no intention of finishing too quickly. I want to be the last one because I will get more coverage."

Redmond has been chosen to take one of the 250 BOA spots on the relay. Also selected yesterday was the father of British diver Chris Mears, who suffered a serious training accident while competing for Britain at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney in 2009. The teenager ruptured his spleen, but made a full recovery and is now hoping to make the team for the London Games.

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