Thursday, August 09, 2012

Nomination For Athlete of the Olympics: Manteo Mitchell

If you haven't heard of Manteo Mitchell, I wouldn't be surprised. I hadn't heard of him either. He's a runner for the US and was busy running the 4x400 relay in the heats. Mitchell ran his opening leg in 46 seconds.

That's not particularly remarkable.

He ran that on a broken leg.
Mitchell, who finished fifth in the 400 at the Olympic trials, had slipped on a stairway at the athletes' village earlier this week but didn't think anything of it.

"Three days ago I was going up the stairs and I kind of missed one and landed awkwardly," Mitchell said in a statement released by USA Track and Field. "I got treatment and I was fine. I did workouts, and when I warmed up today I felt really well. I felt I could go 44 [seconds]-low.

"I got out pretty slow, but I picked it up and when I got to the 100-meter mark it felt weird. I was thinking I just didn't feel right. 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."

Somehow, he kept going.

"I knew if I finished strong we could still get it around," he said of the baton. "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."

The 1,600-meter relay final will take place on Friday. The U.S., which previously lost LaShawn Merritt to a leg injury during the 400-meter heats and more recently lost Jeremy Wariner to a torn hamstring, will announce its lineup Friday.
Had he been unable to complete his leg, the US chances for a medal in the relay would have been dashed. His teammates were able to place second in the heat and they will run for a medal later in the meet.

The doctors confirmed it after he limped off the track after his handoff. That's probably still a minute or two faster than I could do it - healthy.

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