Aug 10, 2012, 11:36 AM EDT
We’ve all had tough days in the office – a papercut here, a coffee-burned tongue there, a splitting headache due to the octogenarian secretary who won’t shut the hell up about her cats. But, unless you’re a world-class athlete with thighs of steel and resolve to match, you probably haven’t had to endure what American sprinter Manteo Mitchell did during the preliminary 4×400 meter relay race in London yesterday– namely, a broken fibula. A half-lap before the finish line. Of an Olympic sprint. WHICH HE THEN FINISHED. I just felt a sharp pain in my lower leg writing that sentence and now will be sidelined from blogging for four-to-six weeks while I convalesce and watch The Wire all the way through for the eighteenth time. I guess that’s why I’m not an Olympian.
“It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half,” Mitchell said. “I heard it and I felt it, but I figured [finishing] is what almost any person would’ve done in that situation.”
Almost any world-class athlete competing in the pinnacle of his sport after four grueling years of training and sacrifice? Maybe. Almost any person? Having seen Manu Ginobili fall down dead on multiple occasions following someone stepping on his big toe, I’m going to say most certainly not.
Even with the fractured fibula, Mitchell completed his lap (the team’s first) in 46.1 seconds and the Americans finished in a tie with the squad from the Bahamas, ensuring advancement to the next round of competition and also ensuring that the name Manteo Mitchell deserves to be uttered in the same sentences as Ronnie Lott, Willis Reed, Kirk Gibson, Jack Youngblood and other sporting badasses when the conversation turns to incredible athletes who wouldn’t let such a minor inconvenience as a major injury stop them from achieving their goals.
“Even though track is an individual sport, you’ve got three guys depending on you, the whole world watching you,” Mitchell said. “You don’t want to let anyone down.”
Don’t worry Manteo, after that performance, I don’t think anyone will ever accuse you of letting anyone down. Here’s hoping his teammates go on and win gold today at the relay final, but even if they come up short, there is little doubt that Mitchell is a champion of spirit… and you don’t need a medal to tell you that.
Photo credit: Kirby Lee- USA Today Sports
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