US-born Brit hurdler wins race, quiets critics
With the words to ”God Save the Queen” safely out of her mind,
American-born British hurdler Tiffany Porter set her sights on the
The 24-year-old Porter, who was selected captain of the British
track and field team at the world indoor championships, won her
60-meter hurdles heat in 8.00 seconds a day after being asked if
she knew the first few lines to the British national anthem.
”I’m focusing right now on competing and I’m very excited to be
here. So I’m focusing on doing my best tomorrow in the finals,”
said Porter, who has a British mother and a Nigerian father but was
born and raised in Michigan.
Porter, who has had a British passport since she was a baby, and
some of her teammates have been labeled ”Plastic Brits” by the
British media because they were born abroad. But one of Britain’s
best hopes for a gold medal at the London Olympics is another
foreign-born athlete, distance runner Mo Farah.
Olympics minister Hugh Robertson entered the fray, which has led
UK Athletics to ban the Daily Mail tabloid from having access to
the team because of Thursday’s questioning.
”If you are going to represent Britain at the Olympics then I
think it is sensible to know the words of the national anthem,”
Robertson told Britain’s Press Association. ”I would say that
would be even more necessary if you think you are going to win a
On Thursday at the British team news conference, Porter was
asked if she knew the words to the song and asked to sing it.
”I do know the first … I know the whole part of ‘God Save the
Queen,”’ Porter said. ”I’m not known for my singing ability. …
I don’t think that’s necessary.”
Several of Porter’s teammates came to her defense on Friday, the
opening day of the world indoors at the Atakoy Arena.
”Great motivational speech last night by Tiffany Porter. She’s
a great team captain,” middle-distance runner Lewis Moses said.
”She’s been getting a bit of stick, but she got us up for it last
night and I want to say well done to her.”
Helen Clitheroe, the British captain at the last world indoors
two years ago in Doha, Qatar, also enjoyed Porter’s talk.
”She gave a brilliant team speech last night and inspired us
all,” said Clitheroe, another distance runner. ”I’m pretty sure
if you asked the majority of the team, they wouldn’t know the words
to the national anthem – I do – but it’s not a requirement to be
our team captain, it’s about someone who you can look up to, follow
and inspire us, and Tiffany’s that person.”
Distance runner Farah was born in Somalia but become a star in
Britain after winning the 5,000-10,000 double at the European
Championships. He added a world title in the 5,000 last year in
”I don’t think that question was acceptable. I think it was out
of order,” Farah told the Daily Telegraph, referring to the
question about the national anthem. ”Tiffany’s a great athlete and
she has come here to do well and represent her country. As an
athlete, you don’t want to be answering questions like that.”