“If you would have told me back in 2012 that I’d be training for the 2016 Olympics I’d have told you, you’re crazy.”
Kaylin Whitney is just 17 years old, with her eyes on Rio.
“Why not me? Why not me be the first to ever do something like this?”
Kaylin burst onto the high school scene as a freshman, sweeping the 100 and 200 meters at the State Track & Field Championships. She duplicated the feat as a sophomore and decided to take on a new challenge.
She turned pro – forgoing her final 2 high school seasons and any chance at running in college.
“I don’t feel like I am the normal average 17 year old. With this decision, I have had to learn to mature myself very fast. It is definitely big going from a high school track meet to being on a professional stage. Other athletes compete for putting food on their table, and making money.”
Kaylin isn’t focused on building her bankroll. Her drive is to reach the sport’s biggest stage.
“Kaylin wants everything. She wants that limelight and she wants that shining moment. She wants the opportunity to put the United States on her shoulders and have great accomplishment when she does that,” said Kaylin’s coach, Dennis Mitchell.
Kaylin first started running as a young child. Her speed was obvious at a field day in kindergarten. “I had gotten down and back to my team before the boys in my class were halfway down. That was kind of an aha moment for my parents that wow she actually is fast. And my Dad was like oh put her in track,’ said Whitney.
From beating the boys, to outrunning her high school competitors, to finally finding competition.
Coach Dennis Mitchell trains big name runners like Olympic Gold medalist Justin Gatlin and former Florida Gator Jeff Demps. Kaylin is the youngest on the team by far.
“In 2012 I was watching the Olympics on my couch like wow, I am looking up to these guys. And today I am running against them in practice and I am actually training hopefully to be a part of the team now, so its really crazy.”
A gold medal in the 200 at the Pan-American Games and a 4th place finish at the US Track & Field Championships prove Kaylin can hang with the best. To make it to Rio, she would need to be in the top 3 at next July’s Olympic Trials.
“She has been talking about Olympics since Day 1. And that is something you as an athlete have to instill in yourself. It’s not something that a coach can give you. If you want to be a professional athlete you have to gift yourself with that,” said Coach Mitchell.
“Years from now I want Kaylin to be the face of track and field not only for the United States, but for the world.”
Kaylin can take one step closer in July.