07/15/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT
After four years of training, it all came down to just one day: Aug. 3, 1992. British runner Derek Redmond was almost halfway through the 400-meter qualifying run in Barcelona when he collapsed from a pulled hamstring. Determined to continue despite his agony, Redmond tried to push away the man who suddenly appeared at his side. Then he heard a familiar voice: "Derek, it's me." His father, Jim Redmond, had rushed down from the stands to be with him. "He's always been my No. 1 fan, my No. 1 critic. I turned around to him and said, 'I've got to finish this race,' " Derek recalls. "And he said, 'If you're gonna finish this race, we'll finish it together.' " With his dad's support, Derek hobbled to the finish line, where Jim let go so Derek could cross alone. Now 30, Derek cringes when he watches the video of that day. "I don't think I've ever cried so much in my life," he says. "It's more embarrassing than anything else—men don't cry."
As close as ever, Derek and his father, a 53-year-old Trinidad-born businessman, get together with their wives at least once a week. Derek started dating swimmer Sharron Davies, an Olympic teammate, in Barcelona and married her 1½ years later. They live in the Cotswolds with their son, Elliott, 2. A popular regular on the British version of The Gladiators, Sharron, 33, will be in Atlanta as a TV commentator. Derek, who was a trainer with Gladiators, will stay home, directing a sports management company. No longer bitter, he'll watch on TV. And if he gets lonely, Dad's just a phone call away.