My Love Letter To Track & Field
Our relationship started when I was young and has taken me to places I’d never thought I’d go. For that, I’ll always hold a special place for you in my heart.
How It All Began
In elementary school I always looked forward to field day because it was an opportunity for us to meet on a “grand scale”. I would race (and beat) all the other boys and girls my age, and then be rewarded with ice cream after. That’s when I learned that I had a deep love for competing and the adrenaline rush was addictive.
In middle school, coaches helped me to learn exactly what you were and all the different events you had to offer. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was quick and I was destined to be a sprinter. With this knowledge and a little guidance I excelled on the track and was introduced to Coach Thomas Micallef (Mick) who coached at Ypsilanti High School. He encouraged me to join the YAWTC high school club as a middle schooler. I did just that, and began competing against girls up to 5 years my senior, I even beat a few along the way.
Then 8th grade year my family and I moved to a new house, which meant I had the option to continue our relationship at the local high school, or at Ypsi High. I chose the latter. This decision proved fruitful because I was able to meet Coach Chris Jonik and under his and Mick’s guidance I was introduced to the hurdles.
Track, this is where our true love affair began. You showed me what it meant to set a goal, relentlessly work to achieve it, then win with grace. Several State Championship titles and All American honors later, I earned a full scholarship to the University of Michigan to keep our relationship going. I was ecstatic. This was a dream come true, but little did I know that this period would be a spring board to a level of success that young Tiff couldn’t even fathom.
At U of M, I met Coach James Henry and Coach Arnett “Chiz” Chisholm who refined my skills and helped me to excel in the hurdles. They poured into me in a way that I will forever be grateful for, and together we created magic. Under Coach Henry’s and Chiz’s care, I made history by becoming the first woman to win five consecutive NCAA titles, and this still stands as one my proudest achievements. Our hard work was also rewarded with a World Junior medal, a Big Ten Medal of Honor, several Big Ten Titles, several school records, and the privilege of being team captain twice.
Track, my first love, you also introduced me to the love of my life, Jeff Porter, and this is another reason why I owe you so much. In my seventeen year long relationship with JP, you served as a commonality between us, and our mutual love for you has helped us profoundly. Also, the girlfriends I met through you, my dear track and field, are some of the best friends I still have to this day.
In 2009 once my eligibility was finished with U of M, I met my agent, Mark Wetmore, and we built a great relationship. With his help, and the help of all my friends at Global Athletics and Marketing, I secured a sponsorship deal with Adidas. I was blessed to be supported by them financially for over 12 years. That partnership opened many doors, and introduced me to what financial freedom is.
Later, I was introduced to Rana Reider, who played a pivotal role in my success on the track as well. Together we won three World Championship medals, a European title, a Commonwealth Games silver medal, a Continental Cup silver, European bronze medal, and broke the British 100 meter hurdles record. Needless to say, I am very grateful for his efforts, and I thank him for the time he spent to nurture my talent.
Then, I became a mom to my sweet rainbow baby Chidera and I assumed our love affair would end. But no, you started tugging at my heart strings again. Under the guidance of Jeff, this time as my coach and greatest supporter, I was able to earn an indoor European medal. This one was extra special because it proved that my career wasn’t over just because I became a mom. Shortly after, I had the privilege of becoming British Champion for the sixth time, a whole decade after I did it for the first time.
To cap off our beautiful love story, track and field, I competed in my third and final Olympic Games in August 2021. That feat was the culmination of countless hours of work, sacrifice, dedication, perseverance, and heart. Attending the Tokyo Olympic Games, this time knowing my child was watching, is a moment that I will never forget.
Huge thanks to Jeff for pushing me beyond my limits and believing in me when others counted me out. I am so grateful that we were able to share that experience together.
I also want to thank British Athletics for all the support they provided, which helped me to be the best athlete I could be. Special thanks to every single person who embraced me and welcomed me onto the team, I appreciated it so much.
Say No To Drugs
My dear track and track and field, one thing I can say proudly about our relationship is that I never abused it. I gave maximal effort without cutting corners every single day of my career. It gives me great joy to be an advocate for clean sport and to showcase all you can achieve with integrity, hard work, and God’s favor. I love and respect you too much to have ever cheated on you (by taking performance enhancing drugs) and thank you for rewarding me with a career that I a very proud of.
So now, as I officially close the chapter on our nearly three decade long relationship, I want to thank you track and field, for all you gave me, and allowed me to experience. I learned so many lifelong lessons, met so many incredible people, visited so many fascinating countries, and earned a decent amount of cash along the way. You will always be my first love, and I will forever be indebted to you.