David Claybourn: Sports Views: Tara Davis exudes personality-plus like her father did

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Jul. 13—Ty Davis seemed to have a lot of fun when he competed in track and field for the Greenville Lions.

Davis, who ran hurdles and the third leg on the Lions' 4x100-meter relay team that took sixth place at state in 1990, joked around a lot and kept things loose at practice and meets though he was a serious competitor.

It's not surprising that his daughter Tara Davis exudes personality while competing in the long jump at big meets. Tara tries to get the crowd involved before jumping, clapping her hands in the air and before racing down the runway while the crowd applauds. When she lands a big jump she gets very emotional.

And then after the competition is over you can't miss her in her cowboy boots and hat.

Davis acts like a true Texan these days though she is from Agoura Hills, California. She celebrated with cowboy hat and boots while waving an American flag at the recent U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon.

Davis punched her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics by placing second in the long jump with a leap of 23 feet, 1 1/4 inch. She was second to seven-time world champion and 2012 Olympic champion Brittney Reese, who went 23-4 3/4.

"I can't put into words how I'm feeling right now," posted Davis. "There just are so many emotions. I say it all the time, I didn't think I was going to be there."

Davis went through a difficult transition period after transferring from the University of Georgia to the University of Texas that included self-admitted bouts with depression and injuries. She didn't reach her full potential at Georgia but did as a Lady Longhorn, breaking college indoor and outdoor records on the way to the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships.

She's also a talented hurdler but wisely laid off that event at the trials though she had qualified to compete. Davis focused on the long jump and that focus paid off.

Tara and her boyfriend Hunter Woodhall have been labeled a "power couple." Woodhall is a double-amputee who has qualified for the Paralympics, also in Tokyo. He runs on artificial limbs.

Tara and Hunter have had their own YouTube channel for years and he seems to have the personality to gel with hers.

I've been following Tara's career for a long time, dating back to Junior Olympic days when her father was her coach.

Junior Mason, coach of the M&M Track Club of Greenville, remembers watching 9-year-old Tara compete in a summer meet at T.A. "Cotton" Ford Stadium in Greenville for a Wylie youth team coached by her father.

Tara's grandmother Roz Lane, a longtime realtor in Greenville, has kept me posted through the years about her granddaughter. Roz made a prediction five years ago at a Lions Club meeting in Greenville that was prophetic. Roz said her granddaughter WOULD be competing in the Olympics.

I'm looking forward to watching on TV and datastream as Tara competes in Tokyo. I hope she gets to wear the cowboy hat and boots as she's headed to the podium to accept a medal.

One photo I'd love to take one day would be of Tara decked in cowboy hat and boots wearing an Olympic medal while standing in front of the Reecy Davis Recreation Center in Greenville. That center is named for her late great-grandfather, who was a middleweight boxer. — The U.S. is sending an exciting team to the Olympics in track and field.

Sydney McLaughlin is headed to Tokyo after breaking the world record in the women's 400-meter hurdles.

Athing Mu, a Texas A&M Aggie, is one of the runners to beat in the women's 800 meters.

Erriyon Knighton, 17, is headed in the men's 200-meter dash after pushing Noah Lyles at the trials to a fast time.

Then you've got JuVaughn Harrison, who won the men's high jump and long jump at the trials, becoming the first American to qualify for both events in the Olympics since legendary Jim Thorpe did it in 1912.

And former Texas Longhorn Ryan Crouser broke the world record in the men's shot put with a mighty heave of 76-8 1/4 at the trials.

Yes, this group of American tracksters, including Tara Davis, will definitely be worth watching at the Olympics.

David Claybourn is sports editor of the Herald-Banner.

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