Big Ten Medal of Honor Q&A with Tiffany Ofili (2009)

May 19, 2014

Big Ten Medal of Honor 100th Anniversary
Michigan's Big Ten Medal of Honor Recipients

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, the Michigan Athletic Department will be profiling some distinguished student-athlete alumni who received this prestigious academic and athletic honor.

Tiffany (Ofili) Porter was a five-time national champion and All-American who dominated the national hurdle scene in the latter half of her Michigan career. She won national titles in the 60-meter hurdles in 2008 and '09, as well as three straight 100-meter hurdle crowns from 2007-09. Ofili claimed nine individual Big Ten championships and helped lead U-M to a pair of conference crowns, including the 2006 indoor and 2007 outdoor titles. The conference recognized Ofili for her efforts by naming her the Big Ten Indoor Athlete of the Year in 2008 and '09. She remains the school record holder in the 60-meter hurdles (7.94) and 100-meter hurdles (12.73).

Now competing professionally for Great Britain, her highlights include winning silver in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, competing in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2012 Olympic Games, winning bronze in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2013 World Outdoor Championships, and most recently taking home bronze in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2014 World Indoor Championships. Ofili was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and earned her pharmacy degree in 2012.

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Tiffany Porter

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It was a huge honor. It was like the culmination of all of my hard work coming into one moment.
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Tiffany Porter
Q
What was your favorite memory from your time at Michigan?
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That is really hard. I don't know that I have one specific memory but a bunch of great memories. There isn't one specifically that stands out. I had an amazing experience during my four years as a member of the track and field team ... from winning five NCAA championships, to winning Big Ten championships with my best friends, to meeting my husband. The whole experience was incredible.
 
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What was the best lesson that you learned at Michigan?
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Hard work will yield results. On the track it was really tough and you needed to get through the workouts and you had to overcome the disappointment of not competing sometimes at the level you aspired to, and in the classroom I had a challenging course load that when combined with athletics made it very challenging at times. I was able to come out on top because I put the work in. That is a very important lesson that I carry on even now to my adult life, that if you put the work in you will get the results.
 
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How did your Michigan experience prepare you for life at college?
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Knowing that hard work would yield results and having great time management skills has helped me in my career. I think my time management skills are second to none and something that I take pride in. The other thing that my Michigan experience taught was how to network with a diverse group of people. I was fortunate to come across many different walks of life during my time at Michigan and that helped me learn how to interact and work with them. Teamwork was a really big lesson as well. Being a part of a team for so many years of my life has taught me to work with other groups today ... which has become second nature to me today. I also was taught to do things with integrity and doing them the right way without cutting any corners.

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About competing in an individual sport that takes all of the talents of the individual competitor to make up the team results ...
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The beautiful thing about track is that it's an individual sport but you have that element of teamwork associated with it. When I'm out there running my own specific race I'm not only running for myself but my teammates, I'm running for my coaches, my family, my country and really pretty much everything that I represent. Even though at the end of the day it's how you perform, you see how that plays into the larger context of the team. That was really special because that played into the success we had winning Big Ten championships because all of us were competing toward a common goal.
 
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What did it mean to receive the Big Ten Medal of Honor?
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It was a huge honor. It was like the culmination of all of my hard work coming into one moment. I was able to watch Jeff win the award and was able to share that moment and celebrate the honor with him. To see how much it meant to him and the University -- made me have a great appreciation for the award when it was my opportunity and honor to receive the award. It was like things came full circle. It was a really special moment for me and one that I will never forget.
 
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Does the Big Ten Medal of Honor have a greater meaning today than it did when you received it?
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Absolutely. When you are sometimes in the moment you don't fully understand the magnitude or the weight of the honor that you received. Afterward, you have a chance to reflect on your career. It's great to know that you won the most prestigious award at the University of Michigan for a student-athlete and it's something that I appreciate more and more every day. Now that I'm further and further removed from being a Michigan student-athlete it makes me remember and enjoy how special my experience was at the University back then.
 
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What does it mean to be the only husband and wife to win the Big Ten Medal of Honor at Michigan?
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That is something that is really special that you don't even think about again until after the fact. Jeff and I are a great team and we encourage each other and we are each other's biggest cheerleader. The fact that we were both able to win the award and bring it back to the Porter household is a very special occurrence that one day we will be able to tell our future kids.

• Previous Q&A: Jeff Porter