Manteo Mitchell is an American hero and a man's man. Running the opening leg of today's 4x400 qualifying heat, Mitchell felt something go in his leg. Pain? You bet. Enough pain to let down his teammates and his country? Fuck and no.
With about 200 meters left in his lap, Mitchell said he felt a pop in his left leg. He screamed loud enough for spectators to hear, but powered on—finishing in a slow-but-respectable 46.1 seconds, good enough for fifth. His relay teammates picked him up, finishing second and moving on to the final. A few hours later, doctors told Mitchell he had broken his left fibula.
"I figured it's what almost any person would've done in that situation," Mitchell said, being far too modest for a nigh-invincible superman. The relay team has been hard-hit by injuries, losing LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner to hamstring injuries over the last week, and now Mitchell. That leaves the unheralded foursome of Angelo Taylor, Joshua Mance, Tony McQuay, and Bryshon Nellum to run tonight's final. If you're looking for a true American underdog story at these Olympics, you could do a lot worse than the tough, tough-luck 4x400 relay team.