Though spectators have been banned from the upcoming Tokyo Olympics because of continued concerns over the coronavirus, Ty Davis is still planning on watching his daughter Tara compete in person.
Ty Davis is headed to the Olympic track and field competition as a coach.
“I’m a registered USATF coach so she went ahead and put me down as her personal coach,” said Davis, who is a former Greenville Lion football player and track and field athlete.
“I leave July 28. She’s leaving July 24.”
His daughter is to compete on Aug. 1 in the preliminaries of the long jump. The finals are scheduled for Aug. 3. Tara made the U.S. team after finishing second to seven-time world champion Brittney Reese at the recent U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon. Davis leaped 23 feet, 1 1/4 inch to place only about three inches behind Reese, who was the 2012 Olympic champion.
Ty really has been Tara’s coach, starting at age 4, when she competed in Texas meets with the Wylie Flyers track club.
“She grew up in Wylie until she was 10 years old,” said Ty.
The family then moved to California, where Tara won state high school championships in the long jump and 100-meter hurdles. She set a national high school indoor record in the long jump and earned a national high school athlete of the year award.
Tara competed first at the University of Georgia before transferring to the University of Texas. Davis won the NCAA indoor (22-9) and outdoor (21-11 3/4) long jump titles this past season as a Lady Longhorn. She also set a U.S. college record in the outdoor long jump with a leap of 23-5 1/4 at the 93rd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, which are named for a former Greenville coach.
“It’s been great to watch her grow as an athlete and as a young lady,” said Ty.
Ty kept his Greenville teammates loose with his engaging personality while playing as a defensive back in football, plus running the hurdles and on the 4x100-meter relay in track and field. Davis was on the Lions’ track and field team in 1990 that finished second in the team standings at the state meet.
But while he seemed to enjoy himself before and after practice, Ty was usually very focused during the competition. His daughter is the same way.
“It took me a while to realize her unfocus is her focus,” he said. “She wants to have a good time but she’s going to give her real focus...when it’s time to get focused.”
Tara also makes sure her dad doesn’t get too wound up at the meets.
“She tells me, ‘Dad, you’ve got to calm down because if you’re not calm, I’m not calm,’” he said.
While Tara has been training in the long jump at the University of Texas, she’s also been attending classes, completing her bachelor’s degree.
“She’ll graduate and hopefully will have an Olympic medal around her neck at the same time,” said Ty.
These Olympic Games will definitely be different. No fans in the stands plus the teams won’t be parading shoulder to shoulder into the Olympic stadium in an opening ceremony as in the past. The medal winners will put on their own medals.
“It’s going to be surreal until it’s meet time,” said Ty. “Everything will be centered around her and her performance.”
Davis said he’s proud of how his daughter has been “dealing with everything.”
“Her athletic success, it comes with a lot of expectations. I’m proud of how she’s fought through adversity.”
Tara had to sit out the 2019 college season after transferring from Georgia and only jumped once in 2020 due to injuries and illness.
She has already turned professional and recently signed an endorsement deal with Champion, the sports apparel company. Tara and her boyfriend Hunter Woodhall, who’ll be competing in Tokyo in the Paralympics, are currently featured in a NordicTrack TV commercial and on the company’s website.
Though neither Tara nor Ty speak much Japanese, Ty said there won’t be a language barrier.
“My Japanese is horrible to non-existent. I will be 100 percent fluent when I’m there. I’ll have Google Translate.”