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After seven hamstring operations, Olympic athlete Derek Redmond moved into business

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Derek Redmond was deemed set to win the 400m. That was, until injury found him and led him down the corporate trail.
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After missing the 1986 Common Wealth games and the 1988 Seoul Olympics due to injury, many claimed Derek Redmond was in prime position to win the 400m and beat the world record set at the time. But while he made it all the way around the track, it was the last time he would compete in athletics.

An Inspire event by Bazaar Voice emphasised exactly how inspirational his journey has been since then – with Redmond keen to forget the 1992 moment. In fact, he admitted to averting his eyes each time the emotional footage was played.

He explained how during the race he heard a popping sound, but thought it was merely a noise made by the crowd. “I just kept on running,” he said. “But four or five strides later I felt this intense pain and ended up hitting the deck.”

That was when Derek Redmond realised he had pulled his hamstring. But his tale is one of persistence and passion, and as almost everyone knows, he didn’t stay on the floor for long.

“If you’ve never pulled your hamstring… keep it that way. It’s not a good feeling,” he tried to put it nicely. “I blew a hole in my muscle the size of a 50p coin. But I remembered exactly where I was, and if I could just get up and start running, I’d catch them.

“I hobbled half way before looking to see how much I had gained. They’d now finished, were doing interviews, had a shower and dried their hair. The dream was over, and my goal became simply to finish the race – I couldn’t live with myself otherwise.

“Of course, the last person in the world I was expecting to see on the track, my old man, came to help me. ‘There’s no need to do this,’ he said. It was the first and last time I could swear at him and get away with it – I just wanted to get back into my lane and finish the race – and he complied.

“My dad is very much a gentleman, but I caught him gesturing to the official who was trying to get us off the track. It was quite interesting as the official didn’t speak English and my dad doesn’t speak Spanish, but there were a few choice words they both managed to understand. In the end, I crossed that line.”

The link between the sport and business world has been unveiled numerous times, from team strategy and rival research to a can-do mentality. It’s the latter, alongside spades of confidence, that pushed Redmond to pursue the next games in Cuba. Some 48 hours after injury his hamstring was being operated on and, with his eye on the prize, he was getting in shape so he could “kick everyone’s butt”.

Four days into training, Derek Redmond lamented, he injured his hamstring once more. “Right, I thought, let’s get ready for 1993 instead. I had another operation, took a bit longer to recover and a few weeks into training popped my hamstring again. This happened seven times – that’s seven operations in 18 months. It came to the point where an expert told me: ‘your hamstring’s buggered, your career’s over, so it’s time to get yourself a real job’.

“What troubled me then wasn’t that my hamstring wouldn’t be the same again and it wasn’t the fact my athletics career was over. Some guy had just told me I’d never compete for my country again – literally – and that didn’t sit well with me. So long story short, two and a half years later I sent him a photograph of me playing basketball for Britain’s Birmingham Bullets. Then I decided to become a professional rugby player, and narrowly missed out on qualifying for rugby sevens.

“That was my sporting career over. It was time get myself a ‘real job’.”

Find out on the next page how he went from personal trainer to company founder – and now leverages his sporting experience to help others build towards their business goals.

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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