16-year-old track phenom Quincy Wilson doesn't qualify in 400m for Olympics


EUGENE, Ore. — Quincy Wilson, the 16-year-old who has become a fan favorite in TrackTown, USA, finished sixth in the men's 400-meter final on Monday night at Hayward Field, missing out on qualification in the event for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Another Quincy, Quincy Hall, won the event, running a personal best 44.17. Michael Norman, the favorite, finished second at 44.41. Chris Bailey finished just a hair behind Norman, in a personal best 44.42.

A sprinting sensation from the Washington D.C. area, Wilson broke the under-18 world record Friday in the first round of the 400, blazing around the track in 44.66. The high school record he broke had stood for 42 years. Then he topped that time in the semifinals Sunday, running a 44.59 to qualify for the finals.

Wilson was trying to become the youngest male to ever make the American Olympic track team. Despite Monday's result, the teenager saw the glass as more than half full.

“Three consecutive sub-44s is just amazing,” he said, a smile stretched across his face. “All I know is I gave it everything I had, and I can’t be disappointed. At the end of the day, I’m 16 running grown man times.”

QUINCY WILSON: Meet the 16-year-old track phenom

TEENAGE PHENOM: Quincy Wilson doesn't yet have driver's license

There's a chance that Wilson could be added to the 4x400 relay pool for Team USA. He joked that "you never know (what to expect) with USATF," pointing out that "this is all new to me."

"They could take somebody from the 100, the 200, the 800. They can take anyone they want to take," Wilson said. "They could take a long jumper as far as I know."

To be safe, he's not going to hang up his spikes for the summer just yet.

“I don’t know if my season is over yet, I don’t want to go eat ice cream too soon,” said Wilson, who prefers cookies and cream. “I could be getting that call and have to regroup. I’m just gonna keep my head down and keep praying on it and hope I make the team.”

Despite running against competitors twice his age (and size) and not even having a driver’s license yet, Wilson has put the track world on notice. He drew praise on social media from Snoop Dogg and Deion Sanders. Norman called the teenager’s performance “spectacular” after the semifinals.

"A 16-year-old coming out here, competing like a true competitor, not letting the moment get too big but living in the moment," Norman said about Wilson following Sunday's semifinals. "It’s great to see young talents like him elevate and push us to run a little faster, and take us out of our comfort zone. I think he has a bright future."

Wilson joked after the semis that he was “just running for my life out there.” He said after the final that he didn't execute quite as well as he hoped, but gushed about his experience nonetheless.

"I wasn’t even thinking about making it to the biggest final in America," Wilson said. "I’m so thankful."

'I really am here'

High school track phenoms are rare at the Olympic track and field trials, but not entirely unheard of: In 2016, 16-year-old Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone finished third in the 400 hurdles and qualified for the Rio Games, becoming the youngest athlete to make Team USA’s Olympic roster in 36 years. (McLaughlin-Levrone is favored to win the 400 hurdles later this week). McLaughlin-Levrone was the youngest athlete to make Team USA’s Olympic track roster in 36 years.

The last high schooler to make the men’s Olympic team was Erriyon Knighton, who ran the 200 at the Tokyo Games as a 17-year-old. He finished fourth there, but won bronze in the event at the 2022 World Championships.

Eight years ago, Wilson was 8 and competing at the Junior Olympics in Humble, Texas. Starstruck by the professional runners he saw on TV, he asked his mom, "How do I get like that?"

Wilson finished fourth that meet, running the Under-8 400 in 1:06.44. His mom told him if he worked hard, ran hard and allowed himself to live in the moment, "You'll be that kid one day."

Monday when Wilson was introduced, the Hayward Field crowd of 12,000-plus roared loudest for him, a boost that he said, "pumped me up a lot. Even though I was in Lane 2, the fans made me forget about that."

After he crossed the finish line, little kids swarmed him for his autograph. The moment wasn’t lost on him.

"When I was signing somebody’s shirt today, I was like, 'I really am here,'" he said. "It's crazy."

And it's likely only the beginning.

Email Lindsay Schnell at lschnell@usatoday.com and follow her on social media @Lindsay_Schnell

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Quincy Wilson doesn't qualify in 400m for Paris Olympics