While training at the track one day, Sarah Lewis and her cross country teammate noticed Olympic Silver Medalist Manteo Mitchell training as well and challenged him to a race.
“It was only 50 yards, and he gave us a head start. We still lost, but still it’s really cool to see such an accomplished person training at TC Roberson,” Lewis said.
Mitchell’s coach, Danny Williamson, retired from Western Carolina in August of this year. When Williamson coached at Western and Manteo lived near there, it was easy to train together. However, when Williamson retired, he had no reason to travel from his home in Canton to Western every day. To make it more convenient to continue training with his long-time coach, Mitchell relocated to the South Asheville area.
After relocating, Mitchell needed to find a facility to use for training.
“I needed a track to train on before we started our intense training, and [Roberson’s] was only seven minutes away from where I live,” Mitchell said.
On his first day at TC Roberson, Mitchell asked TC’s girls’ cross country coach, Tom Ferguson, for permission to use the space.
“He approached me, as the person who seemed in charge, and asked if it was okay to use the track. I said absolutely,” Ferguson said.
Mitchell started running his senior year of high school after a football injury that ended his season. He realized his talent in running and decided to go to Western Carolina University on a partial scholarship, where he met his coach Danny Williamson.
Three years after graduation, Mitchell participated in the 2012 World Indoor Championships where he won his first gold medal in the 4x400m relay. Later that year, he participated in the Olympic Games in London and became a silver medalist in the same event. During this race, Mitchell made headlines as he broke his left fibula during the final race but continued running his portion of the relay.
“Right now, I am training for the World Championships in London next August. It’s an anniversary thing for me to go back and medal there,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell’s off-season training for this event has been taking place at the track for the past 15 weeks.
Although Mitchell said he loves being a celebrity and the fan support that comes with it, he also likes being in an environment that allows him to feel like a regular athlete.
“Overall, I’ve had a really great experience training here so far, the people are really accepting, and I get to train amongst some really cool athletes,” Mitchell said.
Samuel Rennard, who is homeschooled but trains at TC Roberson, has found a personal trainer in Mitchell. Initially, he didn’t recognize him as an Olympic runner, but soon discovered Mitchell’s impressive career.
“When I was there one day, I went up and talked to him (Mitchell) about his running career. He never talked about his Olympic Career, so I just thought he was a really good runner.”
After his running career, Mitchell said he would like to start a personal training business for athletes. One of his ambitions is to open a speed agility facility to share his knowledge and experience with others.
“He’s a great example for all the athletes to look up to and is pretty incredible to watch,” Ferguson said.