Quincy Watts with the USC Women’s Track & Field National Championship trophy / Kelly Griffin
Quincy Watts a two-time olympic winner was born in Detroit, Michigan, and moved to Southern California at the age of 12. Watts was destined to be special after beating multiple track records in all levels. He started running track in middle school and had an upward trajectory going to Taft High School where he broke the California City Section 100-yard dash record in 1987 with 10.36 seconds.
“I started running officially in middle school,” says Watts, who is currently the director of Track and Field and Cross Country at the University of Southern California. “Then that’s when I moved out here from Detroit. My first official track meet was out here in Los Angeles, and that was in 1984 and that’s how I was introduced to track.”
Watts got into sports by hanging out with his friends. Growing up, he liked to play games outside like baseball, basketball, football and racing around his block.
In 1987, Watts ran the second-fastest 100-yard dash in California Interscholastic Federation history only behind Henry Thomas who broke that record in 1985. He also repeated as a champion in CIF history for the 200-yard dash.
“The feeling of breaking the record felt great,” Watts says. “I was really just not necessarily trying to break the record. I was just trying to get better and better at that particular event which was the 100 meters so working on executing and trying to get better resulting in a city record”.
In college, Watts participated in the 100 and 200 events, but during his senior year at USC Jim Bush, a National Track and Field Hall of Fame coach convinced him to run the 400-yard dash after sustaining multiple injuries in his other events.
At that time, the 1992 Summer Olympics was starting up and Watts qualified for the trials and got 3rd place which allowed him to make the Olympic team.
“It was always a goal of mine to compete in the Olympics,” he says. “Timing was perfect, and I had eliminated my injury issues, and I was competing very well in 1992”.
Watts excelled the most in the 400-meters and when his career was done at USC, he was known as the best 400 meter runner in USC history setting multiple school records.
Competing in the Olympics is known as a great honor because you are representing your country. Watts experienced the most nerves then because he believes competing invites “butterflies”.
“I was nervous – I wasn’t nervous about making the team, but you’re always nervous about competing or you have butterflies, and that’s a good thing because you know almost everybody gets it,” Watts says. That just lets you know that you are ready and you’re just anxious to compete. “So once the gun went off at the trials, I knew I had a great chance to make the team. Then also when the gun went off at the Olympics I knew I would have a great opportunity to win actually I knew I was going to win”.
The morning of Aug. 5, 1992, Watts knew he was going to destroy his competition, even going to say he knew he would win the day before. He entered this zone of confidence and was feeling at an all time high.
“I knew I had prepared, and I knew at this particular moment I just felt that everything was clicking so I was very confident,” Watts says.
Being called the second fastest man is something that not many people can say they were. After beating out Steve Lewis in the finals, Watts took the title of the second fastest man in the world. Being named this was one thing that he will always be proud of.
“It’s great, really great because you know my moto has always been effort and execution and with that winning and times and world records and all those different things will come,” Watts says. “So the fact that I was able to execute my effort allowed me to set an Olympic record. My effort allowed me to be better than anyone else and win a gold medal and with that, it was very satisfying and gratifying and a dream come true”.
His other biggest accomplishment was having the record at the Olympics for the 4×100 meter relay. This was accomplished by Watts and three other Olympic athletes and the record still stands after almost 30 years.
Later, Watts got into a car accident that made him lose 15- 20% of the range of motion in his right leg. This made him unable to compete at a high level and forced him to retire after the many years of rehab never returned him to his old form.
Now Watts is married with three kids with what was described as a perfect job and a perfect opportunity to work at the collegiate level at his home.