Former track star looks forward to next phase of life in medicine

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 30, 2016

It was approximately 7 a.m. Saturday morning at the Natchez High School track.

Janice Davis II was in a familiar surrounding, a place where she had both competed and won on numerous occasions.

This time, however, there were no other runners on the track. There were no fans in the stands and absent were the coaches nearby pleading for her to run faster. Instead, the only sound that could be heard was the sound of her feet hitting the track.

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This is was different for Davis, and that’s more than OK with her.

A once ballyhooed track star at Natchez High and then at Stanford University, Davis now has her sights set on a separate track as she is set to become an anesthesiology resident physician at UT-Southwestern Tuesday in Dallas after recently graduating from the Medical University of South Carolina.

“I think I’ve always been naturally competitive, regardless,” Davis said of her success on and off the track. “I need to be No. 1, or close to it. I stay away from things I’m not good at. And success is addicting; I like good results.”

And Davis has had plenty of success throughout her life.

The former Bulldog star began running track at the age of six and made several youth world teams that allowed her to travel to countries including Canada and Hungary. From there, Davis dominated the high school ranks and parlayed her success into a prominent collegiate career at Stanford University, where she was a five-time All-American as a sprinter.

Following college, Davis switched coasts and moved to Miami, Fla. where she began training for the 2008 Olympic trials. But just prior, Davis sustained a back injury when performing a deadlift in the weight room.

“I felt this really excruciating pain, and I just dropped the weight,” Davis said. “I knew there was something wrong.

“Training was going great. I was probably in the best shape of my life, and then for some reason I started feeling a catch in my right side. As athletes, you push through those things, it’s just the nature of the beast.”

Davis said she went through numerous X-rays and MRIs, but doctors could never figure out what the ailment was.

“That was devastating,” Davis said. “I’m putting my all into it, and I’m expecting to compete in trials based on how my training is going, and then I’m unable to do so.

“I just could never get my training back up to that level again.”

Davis then made a pivotal decision at 23 years old, whether to stick with track or shift her full attention to academics. Davis opted on the academic side and enrolled in Emory University where she graduated in 18 months with a master’s degree in public health before heading to the Medical University of South Carolina.

Eight years later, with another Olympic Games on the horizon, Davis said she has no regrets in the decision she made.

“I wish them well,” Davis said. “Some of the girls I competed with and were very good friends with, they’re still competing. But absolutely no regrets.”

Although Davis has moved on to the next stage of her life, the 31 year old is still thankful for everything the sport has provided her in opening up doors to Stanford and allowing for her to discover her pursuit in medicine.

“I still run when no one is out here,” Davis said. “It’s peace and quiet. I can do a little self-introspection and do a little reflection on what I’ve faced and overcome and the many blessings that have come my way. It’s been very good to me.”

Davis is the daughter of the late Janice Davis and Dr. Benny A. Wright.