US-born Brit hurdler Tiffany Porter under fire

CHRIS LEHOURITES AP Sports Writer Published:

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Although singing "God Save the Queen" is not her specialty, motivational speaking seems to come easy to American-born British hurdler Tiffany Porter.

The 24-year-old Porter was named captain of the British track and field team at the world indoor championships and soon faced questions about her nationality, including whether she knew the first few lines to the British national anthem.

"I do know the first ... I know the whole part of 'God Save the Queen,'" said Porter, who has a British mother and a Nigerian father but was born and raised in Michigan.

"I'm not known for my singing ability," she added before turning down a request to break into song. "I don't think that's necessary."

Several of Porter's teammates came to her defense Friday, the opening day of the world indoors at the Atakoy Arena, and praised the team talk she gave before the meet.

"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, 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."

Porter, who has had a British passport since she was a baby, and some of her teammates have been labeled "Plastic Brits" 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, Mo Farah.

The distance runner was born in Somalia but has become a star in Britain after winning the 5,000-10,000 double at the European Championships and following that with 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 whether Porter knew 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."

Another of the so-called "Plastic Brits" is Yamile Aldama, a Cuban-born triple jumper who has also competed for Sudan.

"It's disappointing. She's the captain, she's a good athlete and we're going to do well," Aldama said. "It doesn't matter what people say."