Published June 06, 2012
LONDON – Foreign-born track athletes competing for Britain at the London Olympics are learning the words to "God Save the Queen" to silence critics questioning the loyalty of athletes who previously represented other countries.
"They know the words, or they will," said Britain's track and field coach Charles van Commenee on Wednesday. "I'm not going to rehearse everybody because we have 90 athletes, but people that matter ... let's say the relevant ones."
Van Commenee, who is Dutch, said he only knows the first two lines of his own national anthem.
American-raised hurdler Tiffany Porter was at the center of the so-called "Plastic Brits" debate after she was selected Britain's captain for the indoor world championships in March.
Porter was asked at the championships in Istanbul, Turkey, if she knew the words to Britain's national anthem and was prodded to sing it. She refused, saying she knew the words and that reciting it was unnecessary. She went on to win a silver medal in the 60-meter hurdles.
Porter was born and raised in the United States to a British mother and a Nigerian father. She's held a British passport since she was a baby and represented the United States as a junior before opting for Britain last year.
At the London Games that begin July 27, Porter will be one of eight foreign-born track athletes on the 90-member athletics team to compete for Britain.
Cuban-born triple jumper Yamile Aldama won a gold medal for Britain at the indoor championships.
Aldama is married to a Briton but previously chose to compete for Sudan because of complications in gaining British citizenship. She finally got her British passport two years ago.