On This Date: Quincy Watts Is Golden

“But this is Quincy Watts from the United States. He has destroyed the field.”

Quincy Watts will never forget August 4, 1992.

On this date 27 years ago, Watts became golden.

Nearly three months to the day after wrapping up his collegiate career at the University of Southern California with his only NCAA title, Watts toed the starting line for the biggest race of his life – the final of the Men’s 400 Meters at the 1992 Summer Olympics. He made Team USA thanks to a third-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Watts made it look easy in the first three rounds inside Estadi Olímpic de Montjuïc in Barcelona, Spain, just like he did back in June at Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium in Austin, Texas. He won his opening heat by 0.19 seconds, cruised to a 45.06 in the quarterfinals and left vapor trails on the track on his way to a then-Olympic record time of 43.71 in the semifinals.

As it turns out, Watts was just getting warmed up.

Watts gobbled up track in the final like he was starving for history and broke the stagger with about 125 meters to go. As he pulled away from countryman Steve Lewis, Watts raced against the clock.

The question was no longer, “Would he win?” Instead, it turned into “How fast would he go?”

Needless to say, Watts’ day-old Olympic record didn’t stand a chance.

Watts crossed the finish line in 43.50, 0.21 seconds faster than he ran in the semifinals and nearly a full second ahead of the runner-up Lewis. Just like that, Watts improved his standing as the second fastest man in world history behind Butch Reynolds, who held the world record of 43.29 for 11 years from 1988 to 1999.

More importantly, Watts was now – and will forever be – an Olympic gold medalist.