By Chris Chavez
May 22, 2023
After weeks of trading barbs online, Tara Davis-Woodhall and Quanesha Burks finally faced off in the women’s long jump at the Bermuda Games. The clash lived up to the hype – despite much of it not being televised, which left fans to watch on an Instagram live. Burks leaped 7.04m (+2.9m/s wind) to take the lead in the third round. Davis-Woodhall’s best on the day was 7.03m (+3.7m/s wind) from the second round until she came through on her final jump of the day to go 7.11m (+2.1m/s wind) and claim the win.
What you need to know:
– Davis-Woodhall and Burks built up the anticipation for this head-to-head with weeks of banter over social media. Davis-Woodhall challenged Burks to a jump-off and offered to fly her out to any meet to make it happen. After some talk of a 1-on-1 exhibition, Davis was a late addition to the field at the Bermuda Grand Prix, where Burks had previously been entered.
How it all went down:
– It was not the best meet conditions. Bermuda was very windy and only one of the six pro sprint final races was wind-legal. Davis-Woodhall and Burks were each only able to get off one wind-legal jump. The long jump also had the men alternating flights with the women and there was a malfunction with the laser measurement so officials turned to measuring the jumps with tape. But as Michael Johnson loves to point out on Twitter, it’s fun when the goal isn’t a record or qualifying mark; it’s simply to end the day with a farther jump than the other person – wind-aided or not.
– Always the consummate entertainer, Davis-Woodhall did her thing. She fired up the crowd, locked in with 5 jumps over 6.8m after a first-round foul, and saved her best jump for last. Also a good sport, she made sure to go over and hug Burks after celebrating her victory.
– Davis-Woodhall improved to 5–3 against Burks in her career.
What She Said:
– “Quanesha and I – we’re good rivals,” Davis told NBC’s Lewis Johnson on the broadcast. “I put it out there on the Internet. 1v1 right now. I got into Bermuda...I got eyes on the sport. That’s all I could’ve asked for.”
– Burks tweeted: “7.04!!!!!! Left a BIG FOUL out there! A Great Competition! American Women Long Jumpers on🔥”
– This is great for the sport. Two big stars with big personalities bringing attention and hype is exactly what field events need to get on fans’ radars alongside events like the 100-meter dash. Both Burks and Davis-Woodhall found the perfect balance between being positive and professional while still throwing out spicy comments, and the fact that both women jumped over 7 meters (albeit wind-aided) made the storyline a positive one: both athletes pushed each other to great results and Davis-Woodhall came out on top, which is way more fun than one athlete succeeding and another failing.
– It’s awesome that this is happening so early in the season so fans get the chance to potentially see the matchup several more times this year outside the U.S. and World Championships. Close rivalries where top athletes face off all the time - like Katie Moon and Sandi Morris in the pole vault, Joe Kovacs and Ryan Crouser in the shot put, or Soufiane El Bakkali and Lamecha Girma in the steeple - shape a months-long narrative that creates excitement outside of the traditional championship meets, something track and field has long struggled to deliver.
– The only blemish to the showdown was that the full competition wasn’t broadcast live. Despite the rivalry getting hyped up by World Athletics before the meet, the early rounds of the long jump occurred outside the TV window, which is a shame. Surely a few of Tara Davis-Woodhall’s 500,000+ Instagram and TikTok followers would’ve tuned in to see all six jumps, and given that the lead switched 3 times over 6 rounds, the drama would certainly have kept folks engaged.
What happens next:
– Florence (June 2) and Stockholm (July 2) are the only Diamond League meets with the women’s long jump before the U.S. Outdoor Championships, where Davis-Woodhall and Burks will meet again.
Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.