LONDON – The day after Manteo Mitchell finished out his preliminary lap in the 4x400-meter relay on a broken leg, the banged-up U.S. team made sure he would get something as a reward. But it was silver, not gold.
Angelo Taylor got passed by Ramon Miller of the Bahamas on the final lap – marking the first Olympic men’s gold medal in any sport for that island country and the first American loss in that race at the Olympics since 1972.
Instead of complaining about the color of their medal, the Americans celebrated their teammate’s courage.
“Without him, this wouldn’t be possible,” said Tony McQuay, Mitchell’s roommate in the athletes village. “He held it down for the USA. Sorry we couldn’t give him the gold. But we want to thank him for getting us to the final.”
The Bahamas won in 2 minutes, 56.72 seconds, .33 ahead of the U.S. Trinidad and Tobago finished third.
Mitchell’s selfless run kept the United States in the mix for a medal. In the preliminaries Thursday, he felt a pop in his leg at the halfway point of his lap but stayed on the track to move the baton along to teammate Joshua Mance. The U.S. qualified easily. Doctors later told him he had a broken left fibula that will take up to six weeks to heal.
Mitchell came to the stadium for the race Friday using crutches and wearing a gray walking boot that covered his foot and leg up to the knee.
He was part of the celebration after Taylor crossed the line.
“I realize the significance,” said Mitchell, who will receive a silver medal because he ran in the preliminaries. “But it’s not about me. It’s not about you. That’s how Team USA operates. A lot of people on outside looking in think that this is an individual sport. But in the end, we’re here to serve our countries.”
Mitchell joined the last two Olympic 400-meter champions, Jeremy Wariner and Lashawn Merritt, on the sideline with injuries.