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Metro area celebrates 3 Rio Olympians’ return

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Canton Township — Excitement filled the air Thursday as supporters celebrated the return of three summer Olympians.

The crowd cheered and waved mini American flags as swimmer and Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt and hurdlers Jeff Porter and Tiffany Porter, all of Canton Township, arrived for a parade for the city’s Hometown Olympic Heroes Celebration at Heritage Park Amphitheater.

“We heard you all the way in Rio,” Schmitt told the crowd of more than 200 adults and children.

Canton Township Supervisor Phil LaJoy presented the Olympians with flowers and resolutions in recognition of their participation in this year’s Olympics held in Rio, Brazil. Aug. 5-21. After the celebration, fans had a chance to meet the athletes and have photos taken with them.

Schmitt came home with a gold medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay and a silver medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

This was the third Olympic Games for Schmitt, 26. She’s previously won three gold medals, a silver medal and one bronze in the 2012 London Olympics, as well as one bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Schmitt is a 2008 Canton High School and University of Georgia graduate. She started swimming at age 9, according to usaswimming.org. “I followed my sister, Kirsten. I thought about quitting, but stayed one more season and loved it,” she says on the website.

Jeff Porter, 30, competes for U.S. Track and Field, while his wife, Tiffany Porter, 28, who has dual citizenship, competes for Great Britain Track and Field.

“Now that’s a power couple,” LaJoy said.

Jeff Porter is a two-time Olympian who competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games. He is a University of Michigan graduate.

Tiffany Porter is also two-time Olympian and won a bronze medal in the 100m hurdles at the 2013 World Championships and a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. She graduated from the University of Michigan.

While Tiffany Porter said the 2016 Olympics didn’t go as planned, “I was proud of myself and leaving it all on the track. I appreciate the support.”

The event wasn’t all celebration: Schmitt spoke openly about her battle with depression and the loss of her cousin to suicide in May 2015.

“It’s OK to not be OK,” she said. “It’s OK to ask for help.”

She thanked her parents for their support. “I know they’ve seen me at rock bottom and they’ve seen me at the top,” she said. “For them to see me leave with a gold medal was a special experience.”

As for the three’s plans for the 2020 Olympic Games, Jeff Porter said he would watch from the stands; Tiffany Porter and Schmitt were undecided.

“I say never say never,” Tiffany Porter said.