Porters will both be at Games – for GB and US

Brit Tiffany is thrilled as trials surprise puts husband Jeff into the 110m hurdles for States

Simon Turnbull
Monday 02 July 2012 17:55
Jeff Porter ducked in with third place in the US trials
Jeff Porter ducked in with third place in the US trials

It is an Olympic fairy tale with a twist. Husband and wife Jeff and Tiffany Porter will both be competing at London 2012 – but for different countries.

A week after Tiffany secured her place in the British team as runner-up to Jessica Ennis in the 110m hurdles final at the UK trials in Birmingham, Jeff caused a big surprise at the US trials in Eugene on Saturday, diving for the line to snatch the third Olympic team place in the 110m hurdles. "I am literally in tears right now!!!!!" Mrs Porter tweeted. "My husband is a 2012 Olympian !!!!! Team Porter baby. New PB of 13.08!!!!!"

Amid the exclamation marks, the irony of the situation will not be lost on those who have questioned Tiffany's "Britishness" since her decision in the autumn of 2010 to switch her international athletics allegiance from the US to Britain. The 24-year-old was born and raised in Ypsilanti, Michigan, won a bronze medal for the US at the World Junior Championships in 2006 and competed at the US Olympic trials in 2008, missing a place in the final by 0.003sec. She has, however, held a British passport and dual citizenship since birth. Her mother, Lillian, is a Londoner and her parents lived in Plymouth, Birmingham and London before moving to the US.

Not that her cast-iron legal qualification has stopped the Daily Mail from labelling her a "Plastic Brit" – nor from asking her to sing the National Anthem when she was appointed captain of the British team at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March, when she won a silver medal in the 60m hurdles.

The Porters, who studied together at the University of Michigan, married in May last year. They live in Canton, Michigan, but also have a flat in Enfield, close to the Lee Valley UK Athletics National Performance Centre in north London.

Jeff's qualification for the US Olympic team was not expected. He was ranked sixth going into the trials with a best of 13.26sec but clocked 13.19sec in the semi-finals and then 13.08sec in the final, his late surge clinching third place ahead of Antwon Hicks and US record-holder David Oliver. World indoor champion Aries Merritt won in 12.93sec, with world outdoor champion Jason Richardson runner-up in 12.98sec.

Still, in an interview in August last year, The Independent raised the prospect with Mrs Porter of both her and her husband qualifying for London 2012 but for different countries. "It would be a dream come true if both my husband and I competed in the Olympic Games next year," she said at the time. "He supported me in my decision. He understands who I am."

Tiffany Porter was not in Eugene on Saturday to see the family dream become reality. "She knows I get too anxious," her husband said. "To be able to go with her as an Olympian and represent the USA has been a lifelong dream of mine. Husband and wife running the same event – that's special."

There is unlikely to be any special provision for the Porters to room together in the athletes' village. They will, almost certainly, have to be apart in the respective national team blocks.

The most stunning performance at the US trials on Saturday came in the women's 200m final. Allyson Felix, a three-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist at the distance, blitzed home in 21.69sec, 0.08sec inside the US trials record set in 1988 by Florence Griffith-Joyner.

Only three women in history have run faster – Griffith-Joyner, who clocked a world record 21.34sec at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, Marion Jones (21.62) and Merlene Ottey (21.64).

Olympics news you may have missed

Great Britain's showjumping team for the Games was announced yesterday, with the 2008 Olympian Ben Maher joined by the world No 3 Nick Skelton, plus Peter Charles and Olympic debutant Scott Brash.

"There is a lot of pressure to live up to." Maher said. "Hopefully, we can pull everything together at the right time."

Who's up

Michael Phelps: Defeated rival Ryan Lochte in the 200 metres individual medley at US trials.

Who's down

Ben Gordon: The NBA star won't be in Team GB's basketball squad after he failed to report to the training camp.

Days to go until the Olympics

25: The number of miles between Eton Dorney (the rowing venue) and the centre of London.

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