Who could take the gold medal for toughest athlete at the 2012 Summer Olympics? Manteo Mitchell is definitely right up there. The U.S. track and field athlete was the lead-off leg of the men’s 4×400-meter relay. He took off at the starting gun and then with 200 meters left, Mitchell experienced what felt like a bad cramp in his leg. Turns out that’s not what it was.
He tells USA Track and Field, “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.”
After the race, doctors determined Mitchell had broken his left fibula. But Mitchell finished his leg of the race before limping off the track and, despite his dropping back from the pack a bit, the U.S. men’s relay finished second and qualified for Friday night’s (Aug. 10) finals.
“I didn’t want to let those three guys down,” he adds, “So I just ran
on it. It hurt so bad. I’m pretty amazed that I still split 45 seconds
on a broken leg.”
Doctors expect Mitchell’s leg to heal just fine in the next couple months.