Team GB Olympic Hurdler, Tiffany Porter, looks back on her Rio experience and tells us how she isn’t defined by her performance on the track.
So Tiffany, sum up your experience of the Rio Olympics?
To be honest it was a good experience, I enjoyed it from start to finish. I actually enjoyed this Olympic experience more so than London just because I was in a better head space and I went into it with a different mindset. I said regardless of what happens I am going to enjoy this Olympics because last time being hurt and a little more inexperienced I didn’t allow myself to fully take in the magnitude of the experience. This time it was a lot different and I really enjoyed it.
Your highlight though must have been reaching the 100m hurdles final, a great achievement, in such a classy field is it tough to just concentrate on your own run?
No not at all, I have been doing this for a couple of years so I am pretty used to running against those girls and I am always in the mix so I never really let that affect me at all. I just went into it as optimistic as I could be and just wanted to put my best foot forward. That’s the thing about hurdles, it is such a special event because it can be anybody’s day, we have ten barriers to cross. I think that is what makes the hurdles so exciting but also a little bit nerve wracking as well.
It wasn’t any old final, you were competing with your own sister Cindy, is that extra special or off-putting for you?
It is an awesome experience, there is nobody better that you would want to experience that with than your sister. Now don’t get me wrong, when we are on that line she is my competitor just like the other women, we both want to win. So for those 12 seconds we have to separate that sister relationship and do what we need to do but as soon as I cross that line I look for my name and then for hers. It is just an awesome experience to be able to do it alongside my sister for sure.
Could you tell us how you came to know God for yourself?
I grew up in a Christian household, my whole life I have gone to church and it has been a very big part of my upbringing, faith was always at the forefront of everything that we did as a family. As I got older and matured a little bit and went off to university I was able to make that decision on my own because I was no longer with my parents. It was a decision that I had to make personally of how I wanted to further my relationship with Christ, so for me that was a turning point and when my relationship with Him strengthened. I started going to different fellowship groups like Athletes in Action, found a parish on campus and I had Christian friends and team mates. That’s when it strengthened me as an adult.
— Cross The Line (@crossthelinex_) August 18, 2016
Looking back, have you met the targets that you set yourself prior to this Olympic games?
No I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to in Rio and actually the whole season in general, it was definitely a disappointing year for me because I had such high expectations going into it. However now that I am removed from the experience I have been able to assess the situation better, I mean coming away with a medal indoors, a medal at the Europeans and making that Olympic final are things that I shouldn’t take for granted. Yes I would have liked it to end up a little bit differently but I think overall it was a decent season.
How does God feature in your pre-race routine?
Well throughout the whole season I am always turning to different scriptures and different things that are going to calm me, especially this year which has been very emotional with lots of ups and downs. I would have good races and then bad races and so one thing that I have really relied on is that my faith in Christ allows me to not get too wrapped up in athletics. It is such a major part of my life and we are always in different countries, travelling for races, meeting different people and there is just so much involved in being an athlete that sometimes you can allow it to define you as a person. However having done this for a while and being someone who has a faith in Christ, it allows me not to let that define me as a person.
I always pray before every race, meditate, still allowing myself to get nervous because that is inevitable but I don’t allow it to overcome me. I always pray that regardless of what happens once I cross that finish line that I will be ok with the result. That has been one of the major things that has helped me have longevity in this sport. At the end of the day God is not going to love me any less if I come seventh at the Olympics or I win it, my worth is not defined by how well I run over those ten hurdles. He just wants to use me and my platform as an example, running with integrity.
Is it safe to say that God uses you and Cindy, with your bond, to support one another in your individual careers?
100 percent, in the call room you have the sea of emotions and just the things going on in your head, it is like sensory overload. However, we both saw in that final that it was very important to relax, remember what we are doing this for and send a prayer up to the Lord just to guide us through those ten hurdles and to be ok with the outcome regardless of what happened. To be able to pray with her in that highly intense moment is something that I think will resonate with me for the rest of my life.
Who would you say is the best hurdler that you have ever directly competed with?
That’s a hard one and that’s again the thing about the hurdles, I remember witnessing the legacy of Gail Devers and competing against women like Sally and Dawn who have done some amazing things. Now there are some new faces on the scene as well, girls like Kendra Harrison and you see so many people come and do great things in the sport. One year somebody might be on top but the next year it might well be someone else so literally the fact that it’s a new person every year is what keeps the sport exciting.
Away from the track, you are a Doctor of Pharmacy, how do you balance your full-on commitments?
I work for a company that allows me to work in the Pharmacy as needed, so whenever I am in the States and especially during the off-season. I am able to pick up more shifts than when I am overseas, in 2013 for instance I was working part-time, I had a store and all of that kind of stuff but as my track career progressed I decided to scale things back a little bit and focus on athletics as you have such a small window if you want to be an athlete. It actually works out pretty well.
Do you have fellow Christian athletes that you connect with?
There is a big group of Christian athletes who are on the circuit and very much on-fire for Christ. One thing that we are really fortunate with is that during different championships we have Christians in Sport and they are always giving bible studies which really helps us and it allows us to build fellowship with like-minded athletes. There are actually quite a few and there are new faces all the time in those bible studies.