Manteo Mitchell’s job in the Men’s 4x400m relay is to get the USA off to a good start. He is supposed to help his team get in or close to the lead and keep it so they can qualify for the event finals (Which will be held tonight). When Mitchell’s one lap around the track in London was complete and he handed the baton to his teammate Josh Mance to take the second leg of the race, the US was in 7th.
That might seem like Mitchell didn’t do his job very well. But when you find out that Mitchell broke his leg around the 200m mark of his lap and still managed to even finish his lap, he more than did his job, he exceeded in it.
The runner from North Carolina felt a weird feeling in his leg at 100m, but didn’t stop. At the 200m mark a horrible feeling came.
“As soon as I took the first step past the 200-meter mark, I felt it break. I heard it. I even put out a little war cry, but the crowd was so loud you couldn’t hear it. I wanted to just lie down. It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half.”
Most normal human beings wouldn’t be able to walk on a broken leg. Let alone compete with the top athletes in the world at speed for 200 more meters. But that is exactly what Mitchell did.
“I knew if I finished strong we could still get [the baton] around,” he continued. “I saw Josh Mance motioning me in for me to hand it off to him, which lifted me. I didn’t want to let those three guys down, or the team down, so I just ran on it. It hurt so bad.”
Mitchell was able to get the baton to Mance and he and Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum were able to take the US Team from 7th to second to qualify for the event finals. Mitchell will be replaced in the final for team USA.
An x-ray showed that he broke his left fibula. If Mitchell had acted like most people would in the situation and collapsed in obvious pain, the US would not be racing tonight. If the US medals, Mitchell will get one of those medals for his help in getting the team there. Not to take away from what the others runners have done, but his might be the most deserved.