Friday, August 06, 2004

Nils Has a Soul, Go Figure...

This whole post is inspired by an email exchange I just had with a good friend of mine. Here's the email I sent:

-----Original Message-----
From: Parker, Nils A.
To: Katie
Sent: Fri Aug 06 13:43:03 2004
Subject: RE: Blog
I haven't cried in a long long time, but this actually brought tears to
my eyes. I had completely forgotten about this:


I was just reading Jeff Merron's Page2 article about Olympic Bests and Worsts on ( and he brought up something I had completely forgotten: The Derek Redmond Story (

If you don't remember it, Redmond was an English track phenom who at the age of 19 clobbered the British 400-meter record but was forced to withdraw from the 1988 Seoul Games due to an Achilles Tendon injury. He qualified with ease for the '92 Games in Barthhhhelona and was heavily favored to win Gold (You can read all this in the second link by the way, but I'm going to recount it anyway because it's therapeutic) when, in his semi-final heat, he tore his right hamstring.

Before the curve onto the homestretch--about 200 meters from the line--his hammy gave out and he crumbled to the ground. Medical staff rushed to him with a stretcher and wanted to shuttle him off like they do in soccer matches. Redmond wanted no part of it. He wanted to finish the race. He got to his feet and started hop-hobbling down the track. Television being television, they had two camera angles on the whole scene: one a wide shot showing the whole track and part of the infield, and another a tight close-up showing every excruciating detail of the pain and the tears that, at this point, have covered his face.

Then, out of nowhere, his father comes racing down from near the top of the stadium (which has an amazing view of the entire city if you ever find yourself in Barthhhhhelona), leaps over the railing, darts past security, runs onto the track, and puts his son's arm around his neck to help him down the track. Both of them are in tears at this point. The crowd is roaring and cheering. The racers who were long since done are standing at the finish line clapping. As they near the finish line--the applause and cheers crescendoing--Redmond's father lets him go so he can cross the line on his own...finishing the race like he had earlier promised his father and himself.


I was 13. My parents' divorce went final earlier that summer and I remember watching the heat on Sportscenter. Like every four years, NBC fucking butchered their Ameri-centric Olympic "coverage" by airing softly-lit 8 minute bio pieces on every single American competitor who either has a shot at a medal or has overcome some sort of obstacle instead of, oh I don't know, ACTUAL FUCKING OLYMPIC EVENTS!! As such, the heat either wasn't on or I just plain missed it that afternoon.

I don't know why, but I watched the whole race unfold standing in front of the television in the family room. The Sportscenter anchors weren't really narrating the clip I remember, they just sort of let it tell its own story. I remember standing there transfixed, my mouth slightly open, and tears streaming down my face. Everything about it reduced me to a frozen, mute well-spring of tears.

I'm not a crier. I haven't cried in a long, long time. In fact, I wasn't even a crier when I was a baby. My mom says that when I was really little (if that's even possible) when I wanted something I would just scream. She says I still haven't stopped with that either. Regardless, when she saw the tears coming down my face it scared the hell out of her. She started rushing back and forth between the family room and the bathroom, returning each time with a different item from the medicine cabinet.

Finally, through the tears, I had to stop her. "MOM! What am I going to do with Vick's VapoRub and a box of butterfly bandages!? I'm crying! I don't have LUPUS!" That settled her down ultimately, but not before she went into the kitchen and made me a grilled cheese sandwich. HUH!?

Anyway, when I came across this story today it brought tears to my eyes again. I sent the link to my mom as well and reminded her of that day. As traumatizing as that moment was for her, I think she looks back on it periodically for reassurance that her son does, in fact, have a soul. Who'd of thought?

And before the comments come in on this entry, yeah I choked up remembering this incident. Yeah, I'm 25. Yeah, I'm male. So what. Fuck you!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


August 6, 2004 at 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were you able to find a clip of that anywhere?


August 6, 2004 at 4:03 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

I hate the olympics, just a bunch of corporate whores and NBC fucking up sports that are supposed to "pure."

Anyways, they showed that clip sometime last month on one of ESPN's top 25 of all time and instantly it got a little dry in my living room. I've only cried during 3 sports related moments in which I wasn't participating. 1 was Jim Valvano's speech at the ESPY's, 1 was Kirby Puckett's retierment annoucement (yeah my childhood idol turned out to be a fat drunk woman groper) and the other was the Derek Redmond race.

Good analysis NP, I'll keep looking forward to yours and tuckers posts.

August 6, 2004 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger NP said...

I didn't look for one, but if it's in ESPN Top 100 moments then it has to be somewhere. If I find one, I'll add it. Provided I don't short out the keyboard.

August 6, 2004 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger NP said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 6, 2004 at 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Redmond's story is a great one. The article is well-written, and your blog entry is as well.

2) A great big FUCK OFF to the anonymous piece of shit who called you a homo. On a scale of one to stupid, that rectal-acrobat ass-clown is truly off the charts.

3) thanks for telling these great stories in your blog... you never fail to be entertaining.

August 6, 2004 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Nita said...

It made me cry like a baby too. Which is odd, cause I laugh at people in wheelchairs.

August 6, 2004 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger T said...

Nils, your friend and mine nix directed me to your blog and I love it.

This is amazing, I remember this as well, and I cried as well. Truly one of the greatest stories ever, not just in sports. Redmond and his dad will be one of the stories I tell my grandkids one day. And, if they have half a soul, they'll be crying too.

August 7, 2004 at 7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bawled, but I cry at MacDonald's commercials, so...

I have this insatiable urge to braid your hair and spoon you right now.

Seriously, keep it up. This is fantastic and I promise to stay a good 1000+ miles away.


August 7, 2004 at 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Kerry Strug make you cry? That was SUCH a moving moment. I bought EVERY Wheaties box she was on.

August 7, 2004 at 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerry Strug was on Trading Spaces recently and she was an annoying little troll.

As for the crying...pussies.

August 7, 2004 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger NP said...

No, Kerri Strug didn't even make me flinch. Probably because she had an annoying voice and Bella Karolyi hammed it up by carrying her around like she was a parapeligic.

The Redmond story is farmore compelling.

August 8, 2004 at 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the African swimmer that looked like he was drowning?

I was a bit touched when he the crowd got behind him and he gave his all... even though it was about 10 minutes behind the winner.

August 10, 2004 at 10:10 AM  

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