“There is so much I could say about this man but he was truly one of my heroes in life, anyone who knows me or has heard me present will know how much he inspired me in my life, how close we were and what he meant to me. To say he will be greatly missed is a true understatement.”
Before he became injured in the semifinal, Derek had been one of Team Great Britain’s brightest medal hopes in Spain.
He had qualified fastest in the first round and won his quarterfinal, continuing the form he had displayed the previous year as part of the 4x400m relay squad that won a gold medal at the world championships.
But, as he passed the 250m mark of his semifinal, Derek tore his hamstring — his second consecutive Olympic disappointment after an Achilles injury four years earlier.
As his competitors crossed the line, Derek hauled himself off the floor and began hobbling towards the finish line alone until his father emerged from the stands, waving off the attentions of stewards, to help.
Images and clips of Jim consoling his son as they crossed the finish line accompanied by a standing ovation have since become iconic and used as an emblem of the ‘Olympic spirit.’
Tributes poured in from across the sporting world for Jim, who later went on to be a torch bearer at the 2012 London Games.