Porter clatters final hurdle to lose out on silver
Sunday 04 September 2011
The strains of "God Save the Queen" rang round Daegu Stadium yesterday. Sadly, it was not played in recognition of a second British gold at the World Championships; it was for the delayed presentation of the reward Dai Greene earned in the 400 metres hurdles on Thursday.
Still, there is a good chance that the tune will get another airing or two before the biennial competition draws to a close in South Korea today, with Phillips Idowu defending the triple jump crown he won in Berlin, poised to become the first British athlete to win back-to-back world titles, and with Mo Farah lining up as the man to beat in the 5,000m final – as he did in the 10,000m final, admittedly, before Ethiopia's Ibrahim Jeilan swooped past in the home straight.
There was another home-straight disappointment for a Great Britain team member yesterday, leaving the pressure on Farah and Idowu to deliver medals of some description today, to ensure that Charles van Commenee's squad achieve the head coach's much-discussed pre-championship target, of seven.
A place on the podium was beckoning Tiffany Porter after she stormed to victory in her 100m hurdles semi-final, smashing the British record for the third time this summer, with a time of 12.56 seconds. The red-hot Australian Sally Pearson was a faster semi-final winner, clocking a scorching 12.36sec, but Porter was the next quickest qualifier by some margin.
There was always the nagging thought that the woman from Ypsilanti, Michigan – who switched allegiance from the USA last year – might have pushed herself just a little too hard too soon. Still, she held the silver medal position in the final until she clattered into the penultimate barrier and was overtaken by two former compatriots, the Americans Danielle Carruthers and Dawn Harper. Porter faded to fourth, clutching her hands to her face in despair as she crossed the line.
As she did so, the overjoyed Pearson – the winner in a stunning 12.28sec – was making a beeline for the gold-shirted contingent of Australian athletes and supporters in the front row of the stands, seeking out her mother, Anne. It was a moment as rich in irony, Porter having been denied a medal by two Americans.
Porter has been pilloried in some quarters for being a "Plastic Brit", having switched allegiance to the land of her London-born mother. Pearson's mother also happens to be British. "All of my mum's side are from Kent," she told The Independent on Sunday a year ago. That was the same day that Porter's switch was announced. Asked then whether she might consider doing the same, Pearson replied: "No. I was born in Australia. Mum's lived most her life in Australia too. I'm staying put."
Which is a shame for Great Britain. Born in Sydney and a member of the Gold Coast victory club, Pearson's golden run yesterday was the stand-out performance of the championships, until Usain Bolt got out of his starting blocks and into his stride in the men's 200m final some 20 minutes later. It put the 24-year-old Aussie fourth on the all-time list in her event.
As for Porter, try as she might, she could not hold back the tears. "It's a case of 'shoulda, woulda, coulda'," she lamented, after managing to compose herself. "If there was ever motivation for the future, this was it."
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