Runner Manteo Mitchell both felt and heard his fibula breaking halfway through his leg of the men’s 4×400-meter relay at the Olympics on Thursday morning but kept running, going 200 meters more before he handed the baton off to Joshua Mancs, successfully completing his portion of the relay race with a broken leg.
After the race and the confirmation by the team’s doctor, Bob Adams, Yahoo! Sports reports that Mitchell stated:
“I knew if I finished strong we could still get it [the baton] around. 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. I’m pretty amazed that I still split 45 seconds on a broken leg.”
The 25-year-old runner from Cullowhee, North Carolina, believes that he initially injured his leg when he slipped on a stairway in the Olympic Village a few days ago. Although he received treatment and was fine, participating in workouts and warmups, Mitchell knew something was wrong as soon as the race started. Manteo Mitchell recalled the race, saying:
“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.”
The Huffington Post notes that, despite the break, Mitchell still finished the race in a respectable 46.1 seconds, allowing the US to tie with the Bahamas in the second heat. Their time of 2 minutes 58.87 seconds is the fastest time ever run in the first round of the relay at an Olympic Games.
Mitchell stated that, “I heard it and felt it …. But I figured it’s what almost any person would’ve done in that situation.” Thankfully, the break was not a compound fracture, so the bone is expected to heal in four to six weeks on its own.
While Manteo Mitchell will not complete in any other races at the 2012 London Olympics, he earned a special place in the hearts of his teammates for helping them get to the next heat while running on a broken leg.