by Jake Thompson

Ending on Empty

We always have more inside of us than we think we do. In a tough w...
Ending on Empty

We always have more inside of us than we think we do.

In a tough workout, we may be exhausted, but we can always keep pushing for another 10 or 20 seconds. We get outside of our comfort zone and push just a bit more than we thought we could. In the midst of a game, you can bet that despite how tired we are, we’ll find the energy to push for one or two more plays in an attempt to win.

Derek Redmond may be one of the most famous Olympians of all-time – even though he never actually won an Olympic gold medal. Many of us wouldn’t know his name immediately. But have you ever seen the video of the Olympian hobbling to the finish line, face in tears, as his father helps carry him down the final stretch of the track?

Derek tore his hamstring halfway through the 400m semifinals at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Instead of lying there or allowing the medical staff to treat him, Derek got back up and started hobbling toward the finish line on one leg. It’s an emotional moment, compounded when you see his father sprint toward his injured son. Seeing Derek in pain, his father ran out there, past security and onto the track to his son’s side.

Derek breaks down in tears. The pain in his leg paled in comparison to the pain in his heart, having his goal of Olympic glory ripped away after a lifetime of training for this moment. But Derek doesn’t stop hobbling down the track. Security tries to pull him and his father off the track – only to have Derek’s father shoo them away.

His son came to Barcelona to finish this race and he was going to finish this race. Sixty-five thousand fans were on their feet, screaming cheers for Derek and giving him the applause of a lifetime as he courageously finished the race he trained for.

Derek wasn’t going to win that race. He could barely walk. But he had more energy – and he was determined to finish the race he started and leave everything out on the track.

Most would have seen Derek fall and assume he was done. But Derek did have something left – even if it was just a little bit. He found a way to push past his pain, push past the hurt, and use whatever remaining strength he had to get across that finish line.

He used everything to finish what he started.

And if, like Derek, we still have more within us to give – even if it’s just enough to limp on one leg, then we wouldn’t be empty yet – would we?

An athlete can walk off a playing field having given their full effort in their training, their preparation, and their performance – knowing that was the best they had to give. They had nothing left to give in their sport. That feeling is one more comforting.

Some days you don’t come out ahead – but you know that you gave everything and it was your best. Now compare that feeling of being completely spent to one of regret. The questions that can haunt someone a lifetime, the questions of “what if”? If there’s still something left in the tank, there’s still something worth competing for.

Don’t finish your race with something left to give. End on empty.

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