PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A 12-year-old track star is showing off her speed in a TikTok video that has gone viral, racking up millions of views.
8News learned that the social media sensation has ties to Central Virginia. Jaiya Patillo is a middle school student now, but as a baby she took her first steps in Petersburg. Jaiya’s mother was born and raised in the city and her grandparents still reside there in 2021.
The viral video shows the Junior Olympian on a treadmill sprinting at 17 miles per hour, which took social media by storm.
Kevin Patillo, Jaiya’s father, explained to 8News that his daughter was training at No Name Athletics with her coach, Skyy Simmons. He says Jaiya seemed to be jogging at 15mph, so her trainer increased it to seventeen, sharing that his daughter could have reached the capacity of 18, but stopped for safety reasons.
Simmons posted the video of Jaiya on his personal TikTok and it garnered thousands of views. The Junior Olympian’s athletic ability even caught the attention of ESPN. The sports network posted the video on their personal TikTok account and it spread like wildfire, gaining more than 40 million views in just days.
“It feels pretty cool because I didn’t think that ESPN would notice the video or it would blow up either. The first time I checked it had 2 million and just kept getting more,” said Jaiya.
The 200 and 400 meter sprinter told 8News she was a little apprehensive about getting on the quick-moving treadmill, but the world watched as she conquered her fear in record time. However, shattering records is nothing new for the track star. Jaiya has been running most of her life, racking up numerous medals and wins along the way. The 9-time Junior Olympian isn’t without a great support system, her parents are cheering her on at each practice and race.
“She works very hard and she gets out there and she shines,” said Sheree Patillo, Jaiya’s mother. “Nine times out of ten Jaiya comes out on top, but most importantly she is a prayer warrior, a believer, on another level for her age and she remains grounded. We are so proud of her.”
Jaiya’s father echoed the same message, saying they use track to teach her principles of life. Kevin Patillo first noticed his daughter’s talent while she was just a toddler and ever since has been supporting her in every way possible.
For Sheree Patillo, Petersburg is home. The active Air Force service member is stationed in Ohio right now, but was born and raised in Central Virginia, graduating from Petersburg High School.
However, a big portion of the Patillo family still reside in the city. Bishop Herman Crockett Jr. and First Lady Martha Crockett are Jaiya’s grandparents and proud residents of Petersburg. Bishop Crockett Jr. has been preaching at Faith and Hope Temple Church Of God In Christ for decades.
“We are so excited to see our precious little granddaughter running so fast and so swiftly,” said Bishop Crockett Jr. “I just pray that she continues on the trajectory that she’s on and I believe that God is going to take her higher and higher.”
First Lady Crockett told 8News she’s especially proud of her granddaughter because she puts God in her running. Jaiya shared with 8News that she recites her favorite scripture every time she hits the track.
“Before I run my race I think about the scripture Phillipians 4:13. That I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and that normally gives me the strength to run all the way through.”
Jaiya’s parents say they are grateful for the outpouring of support.
“Jaiya has definitely made our Petersburg family and Richmond very proud,” exclaimed Sheree Patillo.
Right now Jaiya is training for a Nationals competition in August, but says her dream is to run in the 2024 Olympics. Until then the track star will continue to walk and run by faith.
“People are encouraging me to keep going and it’s really nice people are supporting me through it,” Jaiya told 8News.