Mesquite-born, Wylie-raised Tara Davis competes in the qualifying rounds of the long jump Saturday evening with gold medal goals on her mind.
She's number two in the world - and is sharing this Olympic journey with her boyfriend. Hunter Woodhall is a Paralympian medalist who will run for more medals in Tokyo.
His bio on Instagram says, "They said I’d never walk. So I learned to run instead." And it was running that ultimately took him to Tara Davis and a love story that's gone viral.
NBC 5 cameras saw the affection on display at DFW Airport when Davis left for Tokyo with Woodhall there at her side to see her off.
"It's very bittersweet. More bitter than sweet. I'm so proud of her," Woodhall said. "She obviously know how much I love her and how good I think she's gonna do."
Track and field brought the couple together five years ago. In a video called "The Story of How We Met" posted on their own Youtube channel, they talk about that first glance in 2016 when the then 16-year-olds were at a track meet in Idaho.
"I saw him and was like, Who's that?" Davis giggled.
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"I said, this is the girl I'm gonna marry," smiled Woodhall.
Their social media accounts show a couple in love, navigating a long-distance relationship, supporting each other's success in track and field and living their best life.
Woodhall is a TikTok star with more than three million total social followers across all his platforms. He's has been profiled by the likes of the New York Times and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
Davis has thousands of followers on her platforms as well. And, the couple’s YouTube channel has almost 300,000 subscribers.
"And when I'm with them, they are just as cute and cuddly," said Tara's mom, Rayshon Davis.
From her home in Addison, Davis talked to NBC 5 about the love story captivating the country and about the little girl, the yongest of five children, who discovered she had a natural talent as pre-schooler.
"One of her sisters wanted to run track. And Wylie at the time didn;t have a track team. So Tara's dad, my husband at the time, started a track team and they were the Wylie Flyers. She was four years old. And, she'd get out there and run and compete and give it her all, and she's been doing it ever since," Rayshon Davis said.
Pictures show Tara's early days in competition and racking up the victories in Texas and during high school in California that would put her on a path to the Olympics. She's just 5-feet-4-inches tall, but speed, power and technique make the University of Texas athlete one of the best in the world.
"Not getting overwhelmed in the moment, trying to have fun with it and learning your technique and, doing your technique to the utmost," is part of what dad Ty Davis says makes his daughter special. "She's a student of the game. She looks at a lot of video and tape of herself to protect her craft. And that's what makes her good and competitive against the other girls that are more powerful than she is. She uses every inch of her frame, and every ounce of her energy."
Her parents say Tara isn't a typical athlete who needs to be left alone and in her zone before a meet.
"Tara doesn't really get serious until she steps on that runway. So she's gonna dance. We always say, if she's dancing, going around high fiving people, smiling and laughing and talking, you know it's gonna be a great jump day," Rayshon Davis said.
She had a great day in March when she broke a college record set in 1985 by Jackie Joyner-Kersee and again in June at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. when she earned a spot on the Olympic team.
Tara's great days keep coming like when she saw the stadium in Tokyo for the first time.
"I can't believe this is real life. Oh, my God, Oh, my God," she squealed in her video on social media capturing those first moments as she saw the place where she will jump for gold.
She told her dad seeing the athletes she follows or has looked up to all in one place was a bit overwhelming but on jump day, "Hopefully, when she gets out there and sees the long jump competitors that she follows and they follow her, she can hug 'em, enjoy 'em, and then go .. beat 'em!," laughed Ty Davis.
Her dad is one two coaches in Tokyo. He considers himself his daughter's mental health coach while UT head track and field coach Edrick Floreal handles technique.
It was Floreal, an Olympian himself, who's guided her into a new level of competition and made her part of collegiate track and field history.
Here's how Texas Sports.com described that moment back in March at 93rd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays:
"Davis broke the collegiate, Texas Relays, Myers Stadium and school record in the women's long jump with a monstrous effort of 7.14m/23-5.25 (+1.0). Her effort broke Jackie Joyner-Kersee's 36-year-old collegiate record (6.99m/22-11.25 - 1985) and made Davis the first collegiate woman to jump 23-feet legally. Davis' record-breaking mark ranks No. 5 by an American and was the best since Tianna Bartoletta's 7.17-meter effort that helped her win Olympic gold in 2016."
Gold will be the goal for Tara Davis in Tokyo but her parents say their daughter knows to take it one step at a time.