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

track Friday.

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

medal.”

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

South Korea.

”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.”