News & Politics

Maryland High Schooler Quincy Wilson Still Has a Shot at the Olympics

If he makes Team USA, the Bullis track star would be the youngest US Olympic runner in history.

Quincy Wilson. Photograph by Christian Petersen/Staff.

The first thing that 16-year-old track star Quincy Wilson wanted when he qualified for this year’s Olympic Trials was an Apple Watch Ultra 2. The watch measures detailed running metrics and programs custom workouts: great for serious runners, but also a very fancy thing. But when Wilson and his mom walked into the Apple Store back in April, the salesperson laughed. “You have no chance of making it to the Olympics, who are you?” Wilson remembers him saying. Offended, they left to buy the watch at a nearby Best Buy. But the interaction stuck with the highly competitive athlete—and he took it as a challenge.

“When I’m training, I like the motivation of the different things that have been said to me or the limits that people have put on me,” says Wilson, a rising junior at the Bullis School in Potomac. When he persistently encountered skepticism about whether he could make it to the Olympics in 2028, he told himself he’d get there in 2024.

Monday, he fell short of qualifying for the men’s 400 meter race, which would have given him an automatic spot on Team USA. But his phone may still ring this weekend with a summons to join the team in Paris—its coach could select him to compete in the relay. If he makes it, he’d become the youngest American male ever to earn a spot on the US Olympics track team. Either way, he has plenty to be proud of this season. During this past weekend’s trials, he broke a 42-year-old world record for runners under 18, clocking 440m in 44.66 seconds. Two days later, he broke that record.

“He’s very humble, he understands what he’s accomplished and what others have accomplished for him. He always seems to give credence and shout-outs,” says Bullis track coach Joe Lee. Bullis teammate Colin Abrams recalls that once, before a race, Wilson calculated the time Abrams would need to achieve in order to break a record. “As a friend, he’s just very uplifting. He brings out the best of all of us and it’s really fun to train with him.”

Wilson, who comes from a family of athletes, began running at age seven, when a coach spotted his talent and referred him to the Amateur Athletic Union track team. Before high school, his family moved from Chesapeake, Virginia to Potomac for his dad’s job. That gave Wilson the opportunity to attend Bullis, a private school that has become nationally renowned for its athletics in recent years. The kicker? He’s only been focusing solely on track for a single year. To commit to his current running schedule—two and a half  hours per day, six days a week—he had to relinquish his spot on the football team.

But Wilson persevered through “the hardest workouts I’ve ever had.” Just over a month ago, he pushed through a week-long stomach virus that affected his strength, weight, and ability to train. Still, his mind was set on his goal, and it paid off better than anyone had imagined.

“At the beginning of the year this was not the plan,” Coach Lee says. “We were not expecting to be competing for a spot on the Olympic team.”

Josie Reich
Editorial Fellow