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Derek Redmond in The Sunday Times

27 June 2010

Derek Redmond in The Sunday Times

What was the best moment of your career?
Winning the gold medal in the men's 4x400m relay at the world championships in Tokyo in 1991. It was us against the Americans and we took a big gamble the night before the race by changing the order in which we would run. Originally it was going to be myself, then Kriss Akabusi, John Regis and Roger Black as the anchor but Kriss instigated the move to change the order so that Roger ran first, myself second, then John and then Kriss. We had never run in that order before — even in training. We were all happy with the gamble. Roger had finished second to Antonio Pettigrew in the individual 400m so was the second fastest in the world. Generally, you have your fastest runner last but we wanted to take the early lead and see what the Americans had in them. If the gamble didn’t come off we thought we would at least finish second because there was a big gap between us and the rest. But it paid off. We didn’t win by much but it was a very sweet victory.

What was the worst moment in your career?

It was at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992 when I tore my hamstring during the 400m semi-finals and was helped across the line by my dad Jim, who had come on to the track. I was in very good shape going into the Olympics, although by that stage I’d had nine operations on my Achilles. I have had 13 operations in all now. My Achilles was fine and I was feeling confident. However, when your hamstring goes you can do nothing about it. I was running down the back straight when it snapped and when I went down all I wanted to do was to get up and finish the race. I had pushed the stretcher-bearers away and then somebody touched me on the shoulder. I didn’t know who it was until I heard my dad say: ‘Derek, it’s me.’ I was neither shocked nor surprised. I wasn’t thinking straight because I was so disappointed about breaking down. My dad and I then struggled across the line and I got a standing ovation. It wasn’t traumatic because there are far worse things that happen in the world. After all, it was just a hamstring injury — but I was really disappointed.

Who was the best opponent you raced against?

Physically it was Michael Johnson, who was phenomenal, but mentally it would have to be Roger Black. We had tough battles from early in our careers and he probably got the better of me when it really mattered. I loved racing against Roger and we were also friends off the track. It was probably not what the public wanted because they would have preferred a bitter rivalry but Roger was such a nice person and we got on well.

Which was the best track?
I liked the Olympic stadium in Rome and also Crystal Palace, although a lot of people criticised it. Any track with a Mondo surface was good because it would be fast.

Which was your best record?
I first broke the British 400m record in Oslo in 1985. I had picked up a cold and didn’t want to run but someone said I should run at least half the race then pull up because at least I would get paid. I didn’t warm up properly and didn’t even put my starting blocks down properly. I had a pounding headache when we reached the first bend and planned to pull up at the 200m mark. With about 30m to go until my planned stop I still couldn’t hear anybody catching up so I decided to run to 300m. By the time I got into the last corner there was still nobody so I thought I might as well finish, although I thought they would all come past me in the straight. Instead, I stayed ahead and broke the record in 44.82sec. When Jim Rosenthal interviewed me straight after the race he asked me how I was feeling, and I threw up in front of the cameras.

Where are you now?

I am 44 years old, live in Northampton and do motivational speaking. Four years ago I decided to learn to ride a motorbike because it is one of the boxes to tick before you die. I went on a five-day course to learn to ride and then went to a track day at Donington Park. I loved it and have bought a race bike. It is too powerful for me but as I get better I will be able to make full use of its power. At the end of 2008 I entered my first race in Spain and finished 13th out of 40 riders. I am now passionate about it. I have formed my own team called Derek Redmond Racing and we finished second in the Hottrax Endurance Series in our first season. It is not the cheapest sport to compete in and I will never be world champion but I race at my own level and love it. I don’t run any more because I regard that as a busman’s holiday but I stay fit for bike riding.