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One of Britain’s greatest ever 400m athletes, Derek Redmond, came to speak to Middle School pupils at the Royal Hospital School. During his career, Derek held the British record for the 400 metres sprint, and won gold medals in the 4×400 metres relay at the World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Derek Redmond with Chris Graham, Head of Middle School and some Year 11 pupils.

Derek Redmond with Chris Graham, Head of Middle School, and some Year 11 pupils.

However, his career was blighted by a series of injuries. At 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 as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. The incident has become a well-remembered moment in Olympic history, having been the subject of one of the International Olympic Committee’s ‘Celebrate Humanity’ videos and been used in advertisements by Visa as an illustration of the Olympic spirit and featured in Nike’s “Courage” commercials in 2008.

After giving up racing, Derek played on the Great Britain basketball team and also took up rugby. Today, he spends most of his time as a motivational speaker but he is also the Director of Development for Sprints and Hurdles for UK Athletics, an assistant referee on Gladiators, commentator for Eurosport and presenter for a basketball programme on ITV.

Pupils at the Royal Hospital School were captivated as Derek outlined his main principles for life during his talk.

  • Goals: Before you can set yourself on any path to success you must first have a clear vision of exactly what it is you want to achieve. Equally important is an ability to change goals while remaining focused. Life can never be fully predicted and sometimes it becomes necessary to handle the unexpected.
  • Team Building: How best to organise, operate and succeed as a cohesive team. Also how to function to full personal potential and bring individual talents to a team unit.
  • Application: What it takes to achieve pre-determined goals. How to work out the most efficient and effective ways and means to achieve those goals.
  • Overcoming Obstacles: No matter how meticulous the preparation, how dedicated the team and the individual, life has a habit of delivering the unexpected. When that happens it is vital to stay focused, adjust objectives and goals as necessary and maintain the drive for success.
  • Performance: Objectives can only be reached if individuals and teams perform. However, behind a winning performance lies careful, structured preparation and planning. Only by getting this right can people attain the kind of performance required to compete and succeed.