Faith, focus, finish.
These simple words carry Manteo Mitchell through every step, both on and off the track.
For the Olympian from Mooresboro, not every step has been easy. At the 2012 Summer Games in London, midway through the third leg of the 4×400-meter relay, Mitchell’s fibula snapped. Courageously, he finished the next 200 meters with a time that enabled his team to advance and ultimately win a silver medal.
“Faith, focus, finish” became even more important post-London, as Mitchell returned home a hero. The entire world had seen what happened, and wanted to hear his story. He found a new place to excel – the speaker’s podium.
“Motivational speaking wasn’t something that I always wanted to do,” he said, “because I used to be afraid to voice my opinion. But when I got into middle school and high school I became a class clown and from that age on I haven’t been afraid to talk to people.”
Since his return, Mitchell’s speaking engagements have ranged from schools to corporate events to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“I think a lot of people understand me because they understand where I come from and where I’m trying to go,” he said. He hopes that his story will inspire others in the classroom, workplace, and life, as well as on the track.
At age 26, relatively young in the sport, Mitchell continues to compete internationally, and considers his alma mater, Western Carolina University, his home base. While he has less time for speaking engagements now that he’s back in competition, he says it’s still tough to say no, especially when there is an opportunity to share “faith, focus, finish” with students.
“I want to continue to inspire kids and pretty much anyone I can,” he said. — Mary Liz Entwistle