Two-time Olympian Shevon Nieto is on the cusp of realizing her second lifelong dream.
Her first came true 16 years ago, when the Uniondale High School graduate and track and field star competed for her native Jamaica in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Four years later, Nieto was back on the world’s biggest stage at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Now, with her professional running career behind her, Nieto is focused on a singing career and will be featured on "America’s Got Talent" at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC. Video of the performance has been released online in advance of the episode’s air date.
“I wanted to be an Olympian, but I knew my first love was music,” said Nieto, 37, who now lives in Pasadena, California. “I was always [thinking], ‘How are you going to do both?’ I always felt like God would work out a way for me to accomplish these dreams.”
Nieto, who moved to Uniondale from Jamaica at age 4, performed an original song on the show, "Through the Good and the Bad," written for her husband Jamie Nieto, a fellow two-time Olympian who was paralyzed from the chest down after attempting a back flip while coaching at Azusa Pacific University in California on April 22, 2016.
The couple gained national interest after he managed to walk down the aisle at their 2017 wedding. The walk, which occurred thanks to intensive physical therapy, was covered by major news outlets and was featured on ESPN and the NBC Nightly News.
Shevon Nieto, who spent 11 years on the women’s professional running circuit, hired a producer to make a video for her song and released it last November. In January, she received an email from "AGT" producers inviting her to compete on the 15th season of the popular reality show.
“It was pretty amazing when I saw that email come through,” said Nieto, whose maiden name is Stoddart and still has family in Uniondale and Westbury. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, does that say 'America’s Got Talent'?”
She went straight to the first round, bypassing the traditional audition process. In March, she performed in front of judges Howie Mandel, Sofía Vergara, Eric Stonestreet and Simon Cowell. The four gave her a standing ovation.
“This is Simon Cowell,” she said of the famously tough judge. “We’ve seen so many great, talented artists step on that stage. You got a standing ovation from one of the hardest judges in the world. That was pretty cool.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no audience watching the performance, although her husband is pictured beaming backstage.
“To be back on the stage, still able to do what I love, and [be] inspired by the person I was with, it was just like qualifying for the Olympic Games all over again,” she said.
In addition to ESPN and NBC, the couple has been featured on "Black Love," a documentary on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, and will act in the upcoming Netflix space drama series ‘Away’ with Oscar winner Hilary Swank.
But for now, Nieto’s focus is on getting her singing career up and running, and she’s hoping that "America’s Got Talent" will be her ticket.
“I went on the stage and I did the best that I could, so I’m hoping that that was good enough to get to the second round,” she said. “Obviously I would love the opportunity to keep going so I can win the show.”
Of course, Nieto would not reveal the results of the opening round — or even if she knew them herself.
“Well, I just can’t say,” she said with a giggle. “You’re going to have to watch on Tuesday.”