Derek Porter enters the Hall of Fame in the Athlete category for his illustrious rowing career. There may have been a genetic reason for his chosen sport as his father, Hugh, earned a rowing bronze on behalf of the United Kingdom at the 1958 Commonwealth Games. Derek picked up an oar in his second year at the University of Victoria looking for a new sporting challenge and one that might propel him to fulfill his dream of competing at the Olympics. In short order Derek was part of the Canadian Men's Eight Team and soon after that he was standing atop the Olympic podium.
Prior to the 1992 Olympics, Derek rowed in the Canadian Men's Eight at the 1990 and 1991 World Championships, finishing second to Germany each time. But at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the Canadian Men's Eight won gold in a photo finish with the Canadian boat beating Romania by 0.14 seconds.
Derek brings a unique perspective to being an elite athlete as he accomplished world renown for competing both as a member of a team and as an individual. After the Olympics, with most of the team retiring, Derek decided to continue rowing but he turned to single sculls - a change of disciplines that means going from one oar to two. That suited him just fine and in a single year, he became the best on the planet. In 1993, he won the single scull event at the World Rowing Championships, the first Canadian male to win the title in more than 70 years. By 1996 he was one of the favorites at the Summer Olympics where he won silver for Canada.
Following the 1996 Olympics, Porter devoted himself to chiropractic school, and finished twelfth and thirteenth at the 1997 and 1998 World Championships, respectively. In 1999, Porter spent more practice time in rowing and he went on to place third at the 1999 World Championship in the single scull. One of the most anticipated rowing events at the 2000 Olympics was men's single scull. In addition to Porter, it featured two-time World Champion Rob Waddell, defending Olympic Champion and three-time World Championship silver medalist Zeeno Müller, and rising star Marcel Hacker. The race lived up to the hype. Derek finished fourth in the closest Olympic race ever with just over two seconds separating first place from fourth and he retired soon after.
Derek is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions including the International Fairplay Award; Order of British Columbia; twice Victoria Male Athlete of the Year; Rowing Canada Outstanding Service Award, and induction into both the BC Sports Hall of Fame as an individual and team member, the UVIC Sports Hall of Fame and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.
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