Trish Porter's dream of making the U.S. Olympic team started on a fourth-place platform at the 1980 California state high school track and field championships. Fourth place might not inspire some people to reach for Olympic gold, but it was plenty to inspire Trish (who back then went by her maiden name of King). In fact, somebody snapped a photo of her standing on that platform, and she drew motivation from it many times over the next several years.
"It was a constant reminder of my passion," Trish says. "The dream that many young children have of receiving the Olympic gold medal. That was my ultimate goal."
She attended the University of Oregon, where she competed on the track and field team. But, at times, her dream seemed to be a fairy tale. She gained more weight than the typical "freshman 15," and her performance on the track suffered. By most accounts, even her own, her college career was mediocre at best. But her dream wouldn't die.
Keeping the faith
Trish didn't compete collegiately during her senior year at Oregon in 1984. Instead, she left the team and began working on the heptathlon (a combination of seven events). As she got into better shape, she started to see results. In 1986, she made her first U.S. national championship team in the heptathlon, and that opened the door for chances to compete in other meets. Eight months before the Olympic trials in 1988, she started working with a coach named Allan Hanckel who put her on a strict training and nutritional regimen, and she stuck to it. She ended up qualifying for the Olympic trials in the high jump with an astounding jump of six-feet, one-and-a-half inches.1