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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Bishop-Nriagu punches third Olympic ticket

Photo credit: Claus Andersen/Athletics Canada: Melissa Bishop-Nriagu competes at the 2017 World Championships held in London, England.

by Garrett Fodor

Melissa Bishop-Nriagu is able to go to sleep a little easier, knowing she has punched her ticket for her third Olympics.

  When Bishop-Nriagu left her Windsor home in April, she knew what she had to do, and was up for the task, to qualify for the 2021 Olympics. Following the birth of her daughter, Corinne, in July of 2018, and with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, Bishop-Nriagu has only ran in a handful of races since 2017. In order to qualify, all athletes have set standard times they must finish under, or by winning their respective Olympic Trials in June. For Bishop-Nriagu that meant running the 800-metre in under 1:59:50.

  With standards to meet and the need to race, she traveled to San Diego for a Chula Vista high performance meet. In the invitational meet, the 800-metre sprinter was pitted up against the world’s top athletes. And it was there that Bishop-Nriagu was able to surpass her standard. She took to Instagram to celebrate, noting, “Olympic standard dusted…and we’re just starting to roll.” 

  Bishop-Nriagu admitted the family time with Corinne and time away from the track has allowed her to find a new love for it and feel recharged. She adds the pandemic and Corinne have given her a changed mindset and allowed her to adapt to changing conditions and training in the pandemic. 

  In her second race this season, at the USATF Golden Games in California on May 9, Bishop-Nriagu posted her season best time of 1:58:62, en route to a third-place finish. 

  “I feel great. We are right on time and on target and about where we need to be,” Bishop-Nriagu said. “Training has been going really well, knock-on-wood, that keeps going well. I just have to keep getting races in before I can get on a plane and go to Tokyo.”

  By surpassing her standard time of 1:59:50, Bishop-Nriagu now automatically qualifies for Tokyo 2021. She joins LaSalle’s Kylie Masse, as having secured spots on the national team. 

  Following 2016’s Olympics in Rio, where there were a handful of athletes from Windsor-Essex, there are currently as many as seven athletes who could represent Canada in Tokyo in events ranging from track to women’s basketball and swimming.

  When she is providing advice to aspiring athletes and even people trying to earn their first spot on a national team, Bishop-Nriagu reflects back to her late Coach, Dennis Fairall, and the lessons he taught her. Since he passed in late 2020, she is often remembering the little sayings he would say and his words of encouragement. 

  “I’ve been in this career for 12-years now, and I can’t believe it’s been that long,” Bishop-Nriagu recalled. “I’ve learnt just to enjoy every little thing. And sometimes it’s not going to go the way you want it, but learn and enjoy the process. If it doesn’t go your way, oftentimes, it will steer you in another path that will bring you down something greater.” 

  While she wishes she can share the experience with her husband and daughter, she understands the safety aspect in regards to the pandemic, and believes that this is for the best. Bishop-Nriagu and the rest of Team Canada will be competing from July 23 to August 8.


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