U.S. Sprinter Manteo Mitchell felt like his leg snapped in half as he ran the first leg of the 4 x 400-meter relay preliminaries earlier this week. Instead of quitting, he kept running and finished his leg of the race in an impressive time.
The 25-year-old from Cullowhee, N.C., finished his heat in 46.1 seconds, just 1.5 seconds slower than Joshua Mance, who he passed the baton to.
"Faith, focus, finish. Faith, focus, finish. That's the only thing I could say to myself," Mitchell told The Associated Press, when asked how he was able to continue running with a broken leg.
While the average person would surely stop running, that was not even an option to Mitchell.
"Even though track is an individual sport, you've got three guys depending on you, the whole world watching you. You don't want to let anyone down..."I pretty much figured it was broken, because every step I took, it got more painful," he said. "But I was out there already. I just wanted to finish and do what I was called in to do," Mitchell went on to say.
The sprinter had 200 meters to go in the relay preliminaries and said after the race "probably at 201 meters, I heard it and I felt it."
Due largely to Mitchell's perseverance, the U.S. was able to secure a spot in the finals today. The United States tied the Bahamas in the second heat in 2 minutes, 58.87 seconds - the fastest time ever run in the first round of the relay at the Olympics, according to the Huffington Post.
After the race, doctors told him he had run the last half-lap with a broken left fibula. The bone is expected to heal on its own in four to six weeks.
The final race is on Saturday, and Mitchell will be in the stadium to watch, while in a walking boot and on crutches.
While the finals will not be an easy race for the U.S. team, as the 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medalists LasShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner are also out with injuries, Mitchell will still earn a medal if the U.S. finishes in the top three.
The U.S. is expected to announce on Friday the lineup for the final, according to the Daily News.