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Derek Redmond shares his Olympic memories and predictions for Rio 2016

Rio 2016

Derek Redmond shares his Olympic memories and predictions for Rio 2016

With the Rio Olympics just one year away, Champions Celebrity spoke to former British 400m record holder Derek Redmond about his Olympic memories and his predictions for the 2016 Games.

The 1992 semi-final that has gone down in history – what are main your recollections?

“By the World Championships of 1991 in Tokyo, our time had come and Kriss Akabusi caught Antonio Pettigrew on the last leg to pip him at the line. The World title was the highlight of my career without doubt but I do sometimes wonder what might have been in Barcelona.

Moving into the back straight I genuinely felt I was going quicker than ever. Suddenly I heard a funny pop and, thinking it was crowd noise, I told myself to concentrate. Three or four strides later, I knew it was nothing of the sort. I hit the deck in searing pain, thinking ‘why me?’, ‘why now?’

I was convinced I could still catch the others despite the pain. There was no way I was giving up on my dream, so crazily, I hobbled after them. By the time I’d got to the final bend, I looked over to see they’d all finished.

Today he’d have been wrestled to the ground by stewards but he somehow smuggled himself onto the track, helped me back into Lane 5 and supported me almost up to the line. I was inconsolable in the medical room but my Dad was an absolute rock. We had to leave separately, unfortunately, and I had to run the media gauntlet alone until a two and a half hour press conference the next day, where again he was fantastic.

Really, the worst thing for me was not missing out on a possible medal but not knowing how fast I could have gone. My coach was predicting I’d dip under 44 seconds, maybe down to 43.8 - we’ll never know but I felt the best I ever did that day.”

Who are your picks for next year’s Olympics in Rio?

“Looking first at the men’s 100m, obviously Usain Bolt is the man to beat, but Justin Gatlin has been running some very good times so that will make for a good head-to-head contest. The World Championships will give us a good indication of who will prevail in Rio. There’s still a lot of controversy surrounding the American, having previously been banned from the sport for a number of years, and I can fully appreciate the view that he shouldn’t be allowed to compete at all.

In the women’s 100m, Michelle-Lee Ahye is a great talent who has been consistently running good times. A good outside bet for me would be the Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers, who has been consistently running sub-11 seconds. Looking at the British hopefuls, Dina Asher-Smith is the first ever woman to run the 100m under 11 seconds so she is a very exciting talent who we should all watch with interest.

For me, reigning Olympic champion Kirani James, who is an unbelievable athlete, is the man to beat in the men’s 400m. Maybe the only athlete who can beat him is Wayde van Niekerk, who took the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and has beaten James before.”

How is the British challenge shaping up?

“From a British point of view, a lot of the big names – Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis being obvious examples – will be back and looking to repeat the incredible achievements of London 2012. It will also be interesting to see if Greg Rutherford can do the same as he has been looking a lot stronger this season, having had a couple of indifferent years.”

How do you rate Rio as an Olympic city?

“If they manage to get everything finished on time and a lot of the major issues are sorted, the Olympics in Rio are set up to be another fantastic Games. I’ve visited Brazil before and as we have seen at the World Cup, there is certain to be an incredible party atmosphere!” 

Image credit: Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com