Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Derek Redmond Olympic Race - Motivational Stuff

Manoj Tiwari, the promising young Indian batsman, who has long languished in the reserves seized his chance with both hands by scoring a hundred against the West Indies a couple of days ago, when he got his shot at number 3. For too long Manoj played low down in the order in the short version of the game and battled on gamely for the team's cause, but never made enough runs to prove to himself and his mates what he is capable of. His hundred came at a good time and showed how he persevered through all these years. Reading his interview yesterday where he mentioned he was inspired by Derek Redmond's Olympic story of 1992, I revisited one of those wonderful moments sports brings out in people.

The Redmond story is all over the net. Redmond was a British 400 m runner who won gold medals for 4x400 m relay at the Commonwealth games, European Championships and the World Championships. But the moment he gave to the world, to Tiwari and all of us, was at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona when he tore his hamstring while running the 400 m. Down on the track as if he was 'shot', Redmond got up and hobbled through the pain barrier on one leg almost and completed almost a full lap that remained to a standing ovation. It is an act that is remembered by the Celebrate Humanity series of the International Olympic Committee, in VISA's commercial for the Olympic spirit and Nike's courage series.

You can watch it on youtube at this link

Going through the pain barrier is a story every sportsman is aware of. One remembers Anil Kumble, a fighter if there was one, playing a test match and bowling with his jaw strapped up against the West Indies (and getting Brian Lara out!), Viv Richards batting on one leg and scoring a big hundred and carrying his team to victory, Shivlal Yadav batting with a fractured foot and saving a match for India against Australia, Dean Jones fighting cramps and heat exhaustion and batting through vomiting and getting a double hundred at Chennai - there are I am sure many more inspirational stories out there. A torn hamstring goes off with a twang, like the string in a bow breaking, and you feel all loose and cannot stand. I have had this experience while playing an Inter University game for Osmania in 1991. Thankfully Redmond's spirit was around and I hobbled through and completed my quota because we were short of bowlers (also got a wicket), once again in Mumbai during the Times Shield Championships for IDBI versus Bharat Petroleum (this time 3 wickets and a catch, all hobbling on one leg). We lost the first game and won the second. But at that moment, something seizes you, the big stage, the fact that you are perhaps letting the team down and handicapping it by going out and leaving hem to play with ten. Suffice to say that in both games my skippers asked me if I could stand on the ground and bowl from two steps, that is all.

For Redmond to have the hamstring break at that speed must have been something else. In the video he says he thought he had been 'shot'. Derek Redmond's story does not fully end there. After an injury ridden career in athletics, a couple of years after the Barcelona event, Redmond was told by a surgeon that he would not be able to run or play any sport for his country again. Redmond who had given up athletics turned his attention to other sports and represented the Great Britain basketball team, a photo of which he sent to the surgeon (so much for doctors). He also played professional rugby with the intention of representing his country and also raced motorcycles in the Endurance Championship. Apparently he also completes a Rubik's cube on stage during his motivational speeches to show that nothing is impossible. Currently he gives motivational speeches around the world.

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