BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — Earlier this year, a 12-year-old in Nebraska went viral after a video of her running 17 mph on a treadmill started circulating. But there's more to her story.
“I really enjoy doing it and it’s something I think I can go far in. And one of my main goals that I always say is I want to go to the 2024 Olympics,” said 12-year-old sprinter Jaiya Patillo.
Jaiya is well on her way to accomplishing that goal. The 200- and 400-meter track star is already a nine-time Junior Olympian.
Her father, Kevin Patillo, said he saw potential in her as an athlete early on.
“I was laying down sideways on my sofa at home and I would hear Jaiya running and I happened to look at her legs and her legs were not just walking, but they were striding. At that point, I knew she would be a runner,” said Kevin.
Since the age of 7, she’s succeeded in every competitive championship meet she’s ran in, advancing yearly to nationals in both USA Track and Field and the Amateur Athletic Union.
“We’re just proud. We’re just here to support her and be there to make sure she gets as far in life as she wants to go,” said Lt. Col. Sheree Patillo, Jaiya’s mother.
Jaiya has lived in the area for nearly four years, moving here from Ohio after her mother was assigned to Offutt Air Force Base.
“I was so excited to come here when my wife got orders to come here because I remember the Tom Osborne days and the University of Nebraska football. I said, 'Oh man, we are going to a sports state,'” Kevin said.
Jaiya has only improved since coming to Nebraska. She trains multiple times a week.
A video of one training session has gone viral online showing Jaiya running on a treadmill at 17 miles an hour.
“We had started sort of slow. We started at like 12 or 13, and we had planned on stopping at 15, but my coach said it looked like I was jogging so we went up to 17. And I could have went up to 18, but he wanted to stay on the safe side,” said Jaiya.
The video has been seen over 100 million times across multiple platforms, but despite her widespread success, she said "the main thing that I focus on is staying humble, staying true to who I am and staying focused."
When Jaiya was 11, she hit her personal record times with 26.34 seconds in the 200-meter and 58.78 seconds in the 400-meter.
Her mother said she doesn’t just excel on the track — she succeeds in academics, too.