One of the Most Moving Moments in Sports

Recently, I have been focusing my Daily Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In the midst of this parable, a father demonstrates his extraordinary love for his son by running to embrace him. In the last two decades, whenever I read about the father’s race, I remember something that happened in the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona. It was one of the most moving events I have ever witnessed in an athletic competition.

It happened in a semifinal heat of the 400 meter race. Derek Redmond of Great Britain began strong, looking as if he would do well enough to make the finals. Indeed, he had a reasonable chance for a medal. But, on the backstretch of the race, all of a sudden Redmond pulled up lame, apparently having injured his right hamstring. Though writhing in pain and completely out of the race, his Olympic hopes dashed, Redmond nevertheless began hopping and limping toward the finish line. No matter how slow his time, he was going to complete his race. It was a heart-wrenching scene, as Redmond’s face revealed his extreme physical and emotional pain.

Meanwhile, at the top of the stadium, Derek Redmond’s father, Jim, saw what had happened to his son. So he began running down toward the track, dodging barriers and officials who tried to keep him away from the field, where he had no permission to be. Yet, Jim Redmond had one goal: to get to his boy. So he ran and pushed and jumped until he got to Derek. He threw his arms around his son and helped him cross the finish line.

My words cannot do justice to this event. Thanks to YouTube, you can see it online.

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  • Evan

    Mark,

    This story is used in the “Experiencing God” choral presentation. It comes with a music soundtrack to back the choir and video images that can be projected. There is narration involved, and I usually handle such work for my church. When we did this presentation, the narration script called for me to tell the story, including what Derek and his father said to each other before crossing the finish line together, and then to draw the parallel point of how God the Father comes to us in our comparable moments.

    In cases like this, I will glance up at the images on the screen in order to pace myself. That was not possible with this part of the program. Every time I looked at the images of of Derek and his father, my eyes would suddenly fill with tears. I simply could not look up at those images as I told the story. Any member of the choir that looked up at the screen had the same thing happen. The only people who were able look at that scene without that result were people who were not themselves parents.

    The depth of the bond of a parent to their child is incomprehensible until you become a parent yourself, and then the power of it is utterly overwhelming. How overwhelming? If an angel from Heaven told you that your child would live a life of happiness and salvation if you would just drive to the train depot and throw yourself in front of the 5:30 Special, you would peel out in your driveway to get to the train station.

    Evan

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Evan. For me, the most moving moment is when Derek realizes that his father is there. He almost falls into his father’s arms. What am amazing picture!

  • Judelsmith

    You don’t have to be a parent to relate to this video.  Thank you, Mark, for drawing these “verbal” comparisons to my attention.  You’ve opened up new windows into the Prodigal Son story for me.  Having you in my mailbox every morning is truly a gift.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment. You’re so right. You just have to be a human being to relate to this video.

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