Thorp ‘distraught’ as record goes to fast tracked ‘Briton’

Flashback: Angie Thorp with her parents after the '96 Olympics
Flashback: Angie Thorp with her parents after the '96 Olympics
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Barnsley athlete Angie Thorp has spoken out after her long-standing British 100 metres hurdles record was broken by American Tiffany Ofili-Porter.

Thorp, from Wombwell, had held the mark since the 1996 Olympic Games.

Training partner: Jess Ennis

Training partner: Jess Ennis

But she saw Ofili-Porter, eligible for the Great Britain team because of her mother, eclipse the time at the end of May in Holland.

When Thorp set her time in Atlanta, USA, she knocked future Olympic and world 400m hurdles gold medallist Sally Gunnell from the top position.

Now a fire fighter and a coach at Wombwell Athletics Club, Thorp says the policy of UK Athletics importing athletes from around the world who have British blood relatives as a fast track to medals is wrong.

“Growing up, my dream was to run for Great Britain. Ofili-Porter’s dream would have been to run for America. But she wasn’t quite good enough, so she came over here and took somebody’s place instead. And it upsets me, because we encouraged her,” she told the Daily Mail. “I knew my record would go, sooner or later, but I thought it would be to Jessica Ennis. I would have been the first to congratulate her, as Sally Gunnell did to me.

“I know Jessica, I trained with her. We used to joke about her breaking it. But to lose it the way I did, I just feel devastated. I was really proud of my record, 15 years and still going. And then it was gone, just like that. When I heard who had taken it, I felt absolutely distraught.”

Thorp, aged 38, thinks the flag of convenience that athletes like Ofili-Porter run under is damaging to grass roots sport in this country.

Her own grandparents are Scottish but she said she would never have considered running for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games if she hadn’t qualified for England.

She also suggests that a three year probation period for athletes who are switching allegiance to Britain should be implemented.

Thorp believes that by showing this commitment to their new country an athlete would understand the unique conditions that British athletes train in - particularly the cold, wet winter months.