Sports

Gunn grad Watt is looking for her next challenge

 

The more you learn about Amy Watt the more you realize how little she has allowed her disability to define her.

Watt, the 2016 Gunn High graduate now at Pomona College, was born with one arm shorter than the other, ending just after the elbow.

She recently returned from Brazil where she competed at the Paralympic Games. She took part in track and field in the 100- and 400-meter runs and in the long jump. She made the finals in the 400 and long jump and took sixth place in each.

Watt completed the 400 in 1:04.21. China's Lu Li won in a time of 58.09, edging Russia's Anrune Liebenberg, who ran 58.88.

"I was extremely satisfied,'' Watt said. "It was definitely an eye-opening experience. I wasn't close to my best marks, but the whole experience, just being there, it's something so many people don't get a chance to experience. I'm just so grateful I got to go. I would really like to qualify for the 2017 Paralympic World Championships in London.''

Watt turned her primary focus from soccer to track and field after arriving at Gunn for high school.

Titans coach PattiSue Plumer, a two-time Olympian, 9-time All-American while at Stanford, and American record holder in her own right, was asked if having Watt on the team was an inspiration to the coaching staff or to Watt's Gunn teammates.

"I don't think so, not really,'' Plumer said with a laugh. "She was just like a regular kid on our team. You forget very quickly when you're around her about her disability. She doesn't expect to be treated differently.''

Watt's first sport was soccer. Her parents signed her up when she was in kindergarten. Were there ever any concerns about her safety playing against kids with two fully formed arms?

"It never crossed my mind,'' Watt said.

Has balance ever been an issue in soccer or in track and field?

"I'm not sure,'' Watt said. "I never ran or jumped other than the way I am, so I have nothing to compare it to. I guess I found ways to subconsciously adapt.''

And then some.

Watt was not just a good high school long jumper for someone with a disability. She was a good high school long jumper, period.

She had a best of 17-5 as a senior. That ranked her No. 10 in the Central Coast Section. I don't know how many girls long jumped last year in the CCS, but it had to be well into the hundreds.

So we're talking about a very high-percentile performer. She made it to the CCS finals and placed eighth, not that far off a trip to the state meet.

Even more impressive taking into consideration the things she can't do.

"She can't do pushups,'' Plumer said. "It impacts your weight lifting, your start out of the starting blocks and the baton pass on the relay. But she adjusts and adapts so quickly. She improved greatly the last four years. I think you'll see even more progress over the next four years. She's a great young woman. I'm really proud of her.''

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Gwen
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Correction: Anrune Liebenberg is a South Africa T47 athlete, not Russian.


1 person likes this
Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2016 at 7:44 pm

While she was still in high school, Amy also served on the Board of Directors of Friends of the Palo Alto Animal Shelter (FoPAAS). Since we became a nonprofit in 2013, we have enjoyed the contributions of several high school students. Amy always had good ideas to propose, she helped with the Pet-A-Palooza event at Town & Country Village in May 2015, and it was always a pleasure to see her at our meetings.

I am impressed, but not surprised at Amy's latest accomplishments in the Paralympics in Brazil. Congratulations, Amy!


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