Detroit PAL track team sets teen national record at Junior Olympics

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Four rising stars from Detroit PAL got ready to break a record at the Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa. They didn't just break the 4 x 100 relay team -- they crushed it with a new national record.

The relay team is from TLU, Track Life University, and the runners just 13 and 14 years old. They are now back home in Detroit sporting some serious medals.

"I didn't know we broke it and when I heard it, I ran over to Kaila and gave her a hug," said Olivia Jenkins.

"Once I saw my coach jump up, I was like oh - we just PR'd," said Comari Hawkins. But it was even better than a personal record. It was a national one.

"I will never forget when the announcer said TLU - Detroit PAL - a new national record," said Darnell Hall, coach.

"Not everyone gets to feel that," said Kaila Jackson. "So it was just a very exciting moment."

It was one made even more special because Kaila, their anchor, had overcome tremendous odds after being diagnosed with type-one diabetes just two months ago.

"Sometimes it's a struggle," she said. "I have to make sure my levels are always balanced."

"We live on one team, one family," Coach Hall said. "And when Kaila was diagnosed with type-one diabetes it was hard - and it was an adjustment and to see her persevere and to bring that baton and anchor - that national record - it was a sight to see and it was bigger than just running."

Coach Darnell Hall - an Olympian himself, has inspired these girls to go for the gold as well. Hall and his wife Karen were both athletes with Detroit PAL growing up - now they're giving back - and what an impact they're having.

"We had approximately 71 kids that qualified for the Junior Olympic Games - brought back a lot of medals," said Karen Hall, president and CEO of TLU. "And for us it's really just the experience that these are lifelong experiences that our young people will remember for a lifetime."

It's really what Detroit PAL or the Detroit Police Athletic League, is all about.

"It builds life skills, it builds teamwork, it builds friends that you'll have forever," said Robert Jamerson, chief operating officer, PAL.

Friends, teammates, these young ladies know a lot about that. They will all be together in 9th grade at Renaissance High School come September. On Tuesday they gave a shout out to one of their coaches.

"Thank you Coach AJ."

And they're giving some great advice for life both on and off the track.

"Sometimes in practice it was hard and you would want to quit but you just have to keep working," said Leeah Burr.

"If you ever feel like quitting just think to yourself how you could be in the future if you keep trying," said Kaila. "Never to give up and just keep striving because you can be something."

Detroit PAL already knows that these ladies will qualify again for the Junior Olympics and so will many others but they want to be able to send everybody.

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