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Gryphon Gallery: Derek Porter

Stuart Brambley, School Archivist
Derek Porter attended Glenlyon Norfolk School (Glenlyon Preparatory) from 1976 to 1983.
Derek was a good student and an excellent participant in virtually every sport offered by the school. However, the only training he received in those days for rowing was turning around with his back to the front of class!! That must have paid dividends because his athleticism and opportunity at the University of Victoria allowed him to develop into a world class rower.

His first international exposure was at the 1988 Pan Am Games in Australia, followed in successive years by World Championships in Slovenia, Australia and Austria. By this time, Derek had established himself as the power to drive the ‘engine’ of the boat and was seated in the predominant position of stroke.

Then in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, that ‘Porter power’ paid off in one of the closest finals in rowing history, as the Canadian team struck gold. They edged out the Roumanians by just 0.14 seconds. This team was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

After fulfilling every serious athlete’s ambition of a gold at the Barcelona Games, he re-set his competitive goals. He took up single sculls and set his sights on 1996 in Atlanta. Starting out well in 1993 with silver at the World University Games and gold at the World Championships, Derek dropped off the pace for 1994 and 1995. Maybe it was a deliberate strategy to lull his competitors into thinking he wasn’t going to be a threat, but he bounced back and took the silver in Atlanta. That same year Derek was awarded the prestigious Order of British Columbia. 

Following the 1996 Games, Derek devoted himself to chiropractic school, obtaining his Doctorate in 1998, but still keeping in-touch with his oars and the water. In 1999, he devoted more practice time to rowing, and was selected for the 2000 Sydney Olympics in one of the most anticipated rowing events—the men’s single sculls. In a race over 2000 metres, only two seconds separated the first four rowers, and Derek sadly finished fourth. Retiring after this Games, he was hopeful to make a comeback in 2008 in the double sculls event, but his team mate was unfortunately injured and they did not attend.

Derek made a memorable visit to the junior students at The Beach in 1993, attended Centennial Celebrations of GNS in 2013, was inducted into the 'Wall of Honour' at the Night of the Gryphon Athletics Banquet in 2015 and most recently was at a Celebration of Life for former Glenlyon teacher John Eastaugh. True testament that he may have turned his back in class, but never on his old school.

This is the twenty-second instalment of a series of articles entitled "Gryphon Gallery” created by our School Archivist that provides snapshots that celebrate the achievements of a variety of alumni and staff from throughout the history of GNS.


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We wish to acknowledge and respect the Lekwungen-Speaking Peoples on whose traditional territory we stand, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and Wsáneć Peoples whose historical relationships with the land, where we live, work, play and learn, continue to this day.