Sunday, March 1, 2015

You cannot measure courage

Force is measured in kilograms. Speed is measured in seconds. Courage? You can't measure courage". Derek Anthony Redmond is a retired British athlete who during his career held the British record for the 400 metre sprint, and won gold medals in the 4x400 metres relay at the World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games. Derek was blighted by a series of injuries and during the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona he tore his hamstring in the 400 metres semi-final but continued the race limping and, with assistance from his father, managed to complete a full lap of the track with a standing ovation from the crowd. This has become a well-remembered moment in Olympic history and the subject of one of the International Olympic Committee's 'Celebrate Humanity' videos as well as used in advertisements as an illustration of the Olympic spirit. Redmond had started well, but in the back straight about 250 metres from the finish, his hamstring snapped making him hobble to a halt and he fell to the ground in pain. Redmond decided he wanted to finish the race anyway and hobbled along the track where he was joined by his father, Jim Redmond, who broke past security to get to his son. Jim and Derek completed the last lap together, with Derek leaning on his father's shoulder for support. As they crossed the finish line, the crowd of 65,000 spectators rose to give Derek a standing ovation. Derek was officially disqualified from the race because his father helped him finish and Olympic records state that he "Did Not Finish" the race. When I heard the story of Derek I was not  much focused in him not winning the race as anticipated, but on the fact that for him, finishing the race mattered more than winning and he ended up being the greatest winner from the perspective of being courageous. Considering the way many people start what they do not finish in today's world this is a great lesson on completion from Derek. What I like is the statement made by the Olympic Committee about courage on measurement. Since it cannot be measured, it can be very short or infinite and so where one can give up after one attempt, another will keep pursuit until a desired outcome is achieved. Quite challenging for me as well right now, but need I say more?