Mitchell said he “felt” and “heard” his fibula snap at the start of the race. Still, Mitchell kept running, pounding about another 200 meters before handing off the baton to a teammate.
Jim Walker, Sports Science Director at Intermountain Health Care, said he is not surprised.
“In the Olympic moment, your leg hurts, but if you don't need it [the fibula] to finish you're going to finish,” Walker said.
Walker explained the fibula is a small non weight bearing bone in your leg.
Mitchell kept running because there was no pressure on the broken bone.
“He didn’t fall,” Walker said. “He didn’t need it to finish. He just had to withstand the discomfort until the end.”
Mitchell’s dedication helped Team USA finish the race and qualify for the final relay Friday night.
Right after the race, Mitchell was talking about what just happened. He told a Yahoo sports reporter, “It hurt so bad. I'm pretty amazed that I still split 45 seconds on a broken leg.” He went on to say, “As soon as I took the first step... I felt it break. I heard it.
It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half.”
“I’m sure he didn’t want to let his teammates down,” Walker added. “If you don’t finish, you don’t move on.
Although Mitchell helped his team reach the finals, he will likely sit out the final race.