to have the rainbow.” Sometimes, to appreciate the good things in
life, we must suffer through the bad things. Call it a necessity for
failure, if you will.
In the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Derek Redmond was running in
the greatest race of his life, the semi-finals of the 400-meter event.
Before he could finish the race, Redmond tore his hamstring.
Most would have quit. There would certainly be no disgrace as the
injury is a crippling one. But Derek Redmond refused to give up. He
literally limped the next 100 meters until he slowed to a walk.
His father, watching his son with tears in his eyes, ran to him and
begged him to stop the race. Derek initially pushed his father’s
loving arms away and said that “I started this race and I’m going to
Finally Derek put his arm around the father’s shoulders as the pain
was now unbearable. He was determined to finish the race. A few meters
from the finish line, his dad released him to cross the line under his
own power to the standing ovation of the 65,000 fans looking on.
No one remembers who won that race. Everyone remembers who lost it.
One of the great contradictions in life is that winners never lose.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Please pardon the personal reference. I won the World Championship of
Public Speaking for Toastmasters International in Vancouver, British
Columbia, Canada in 1978, an organization (at the time) of some 65,000
speakers in some 60 countries throughout the English-speaking world.
I lost that same World Championship in 1977 in Toronto, Ontario,
Canada because I went eight seconds over my allotted time limit and
was disqualified. I’m fond of saying that you have to go through
Toronto to get to Vancouver. Sometimes winners lose! There is a
necessity for failure.
While competing in Vancouver, I took the time to visit the site of a
marathon in which the noble Jim Peters of Great Britain had run the
demanding and imposing 26-mile event. Peters was competing in the 1954
Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, exactly 24 years prior to my visit.
He was easily the pre-race favorite, and he attempted to destroy the
field with a blistering pace, which worked quite nicely for the first
26 miles. The problem… the race was 26 and one-quarter miles long.
When Peters came into the stadium that year, he had a 17-minute lead
on his closest competitor. The announcers were going wild because this
was about to be a new world record. Slow as I am, I could have won
History tells us that the atmosphere in Vancouver was humid and hot
that particular day, but Jim Peters was determined to make his mark.
As with most marathons at this level of competition, Peters ran the
first 26 miles outside the stadium in Vancouver. When he came into the
stadium for the last quarter mile lap, the lactic acid in his muscles
all but consumed him. He began to suffer from severe cramps. Some 300
yards from the finish line, Peters collapsed on the track.
But he refused to quit. He got up, and he ran a few more steps, and he
collapsed again. Peters got up a third time and walked a few steps
before collapsing again. Altogether, Jim Peters collapsed 16 different
times on the Vancouver oval that particular day. But he still refused
When he tried to get up the 17th time, he crawled on his hands and
knees in an agonizing show of guts… until he collapsed one final
time across a white line that he thought was the finish line. He was
200 yards short of his goal.
It would be nice to say Jim Peters went on to win the Gold Medal at
the next Olympics. However, following medical advice of his doctor, he
gave up competitive running. Jim Peters never won the Gold Medal he so
Sometimes, no matter how hard you work, no matter what price you
pay… sometimes you fail, not because of yourself but in spite of
yourself. Life is full of failure. Dolly Parton is fond of saying
“You’ve gotta have the rain to have the rainbow.”
Me? I believe the road to Vancouver goes right through Toronto.
Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for
this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at