Update: Since the publishing of this article, Tara Davis finished the Long Jump qualification round in second place with a jump of 6.85 meters, only 0.1 meters behind first place. Tara will jump in the finals on Tuesday, August 3rd.
In June, local track and field athlete Tara Davis, 22, competed at the Olympic Trials held in Eugene, Oregon — the second time for long-jumper Tara. Tara clinched a spot with Team USA, placing second at the Trials, and is competing under the Tokyo sun at the Olympic games.
“The Olympics has always been my dream,” Tara told the Guardian. “This is my first time ever going.”
Her rise to the games was nothing unexpected. Tara holds the collegiate long jump records (indoor and outdoor), the national indoor record for long jump, and the U20 60-meter hurdles world record.
A Life on Track
Tara first ran track and field when she was four years old for her father’s track club in Wylie, Texas.
“She really fell in love with the competition and getting a ribbon, no matter what color the ribbon was,” Ty Davis, Tara’s dad, told the Guardian. “I kept coaching, and she kept being out there.”
The young athlete excelled, and her parents gave the sport more focus to see where it led them. When Tara was eleven years old, her family moved to California and she ran for Plyometric Fusion Track Club and trained independently with her dad — who trained elite athletes and coached her in long jump and sprints — and a private coach/mentor, Anrique Freeman who coached her in hurdles.
“We had some pretty elite track teams in California, so it was pretty prominent in my life, which was great,” she says.
At Agoura High School, Tara set school records in roughly half the total track and field events. She won the state meet several times, and laid claim to the high school national indoor long jump record. She also earned California State records in long jump and hurdles.
In 2016, at age 17, she competed at the Olympic Trials, but did not advance. Injuries kept her from the track for much of 2019, and 2020 proved a disappointment. At her first meet back, she turned in a poor performance — which provoked her to try never to lose again.
“I went to practice, and I asked questions. I paid attention to coaching, and I really became a student of the sport,” she says. “It took a lot of training and determination.”
Tara then qualified a second time for the Olympic Trials in both long jump and hurdles. A minor hamstring injury put hurdling out of the question, but she could still long jump — and the recent Trials couldn’t have gone better in that event.
“It was so much fun,” she says. “I had an amazing time. My parents got to come, my boyfriend, my best friend from Texas got to come, so it was a really fun experience, and I’m glad that my whole entire family got to be a part of it because they’ve been a part of my journey my entire life.”
In June 2021, she placed second to her heroine, Brittney Reese, an Olympic silver and gold medalist.
“I’m looking forward to just being in Tokyo,” Tara says. “That looks so much fun and so cool. … I’m just really excited.”
Tara’s pre-competition routine includes eating a pasta meal the day before and listening to music. The long-jumper fit three summer college courses into her Olympic journey and is on her way to graduate from the University of Texas at the end of August. She hopes her career will be in track and field.