Please watch this incredible video of the amazing Derek Redmond a British athlete who was tipped for a medal in the 1992 Olympic 400m sprint in Barcelona.
On the day, as you can see, he pulls a hamstring during the race and has to pull back. Yet he continues to hobble his way around the track to the standing ovation of the crowd whilst his father runs from the stands to support him. Even as I write this, my eyes are welling with emotion visualising this man in agony with pain refusing to give up on his goal and sensing the tenderness and love of his father.
I wonder how many other people this video has touched and why? Is it sadness of hope dashed? Is it the wonder of what it takes to show commitment in adversity? Is it the collective unity and passion showed by the crowd for another human being? Is it the protective care and unstoppable love of the father for his son?
For Jake Sheaf, as he showed a hall full of school children and their parents the video, the message was “keep going”. Jake knows about this. He trained with the Great Britain beach volleyball team, taking a risk and living away from home at 16 to do so, with great success. He overcame injury that set him back and was doing well until funding was pulled from the programme. With no funding, he just about scraped together enough to continue competing around the world. Partnering his brother, they clung on to their passion for the sport. Finally, his brother had enough and took at paid job and left the partnership. When I met him, Jake was playing with a new partner, telling everyone he could about beach volleyball and getting by on a wing and a prayer waiting for the Olympic selections. In spite of the odds, he is continuing with the thing that makes his heart sing, putting in the determination, hard training and commitment so that he can be top of his game.
So today, I’m asking “What will I keep going at? What makes my heart sing? And what do I commit to with a passion that is prepared to counter the odds?”
Many thanks and good luck with the Olympic selection, Jake. You can see Jake in action in the video below.