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Windsor-Essex well represented in Tokyo Olympics as athletes begin arriving home


(Courtesy Swimming Canada/Jo Kleindl) 

by Garrett Fodor

As the Tokyo Olympics approach the closing ceremonies, scheduled for August 8, four of the region’s five athletes are making their way back home following the completion of their events.

  After one week of events, athletes have won, athletes have lost, recorded personal bests, and returned home to their families, friends, and loved ones. But as they all wrote proudly on their social media, they were all proud to wear Canada’s maple leaf. Four Windsor-Essex athletes in Tokyo have completed their events and following COVID protocols in the athletes village before returning home.

  When Melissa Bishop-Nriagu arrived in Tokyo for her third Olympics, the 800-metre sprinter was named co-captain for Athletics Canada’s track and field team. Bishop-Nriagu was entering the Olympics coming in after competing in events across North America, where her times continued to progress and improve, and posting season bests.

  On July 29, Bishop-Nriagu ran in her 800-metre heat, where she placed fourth with a time of 2:02:11. She missed out on automatically qualifying for the semi-finals by one place. Bishop-Nriagu’s time would eventually be surpassed in the final heats, as she failed to reach the semi-finals, placing 28th. 

  “As of seven days ago, I could have confidently told you that I was in personal best form and in the hunt for a medal,” Bishop-Nriagu posted on her Instagram account. “But sport often has ways of breaking your heart. One week ago, I hurt my hamstring pretty badly, I didn’t know if I’d be able to line up. We did everything possible to get me there, but it wasn’t enough.” 

  Bishop-Nriagu concluded her post, noting that she is okay and grateful for the support she has received. She believes she will be back.

  Her Lancer teammate, Noelle Montcalm, was also in action in Tokyo. The 400-metre hurdler competed on July 30. In her heat, Montcalm placed sixth, posting a time of 55.85 seconds, missing out on the semi-finals, by hundredths of a second.

  Montcalm will have one more chance to potentially run, as a member of the 4x400 metre relay, when they run their heats on August 5 in order to qualify for the finals on August 7. It was the 4x400 metre in 2016, which Montcalm and team placed fourth, missing the podium by milliseconds.

  While Brandon McBride was competing in the 800-metre, he was coming into Tokyo having spent much of the last 18-months recovering from various ailments, only racing a handful of times in 2021. In his heat, McBride placed 6th, with a time of 1:46:32, finishing nearly half a second behind the leader. As a result, he missed the opportunity to advance to the semi-finals in the event. 

  For 25-year-old Kylie Masse, 2021 marked her second Olympics appearance and the LaSalle native was hoping to add to her performance from Rio 2016, where she earned a bronze medal. And, improve she did, as the swimmer outdid her previous performances. The swimmer began the games with a pair of silver medals in the 100-metre and 200-metre backstroke events, before adding to her collection of medals, as Masse was a member of the 4x100 metre medley team. Masse and the team placed third in the event, as she will return home to Canada and LaSalle with three more medals to her name. 

Rounding out Windsor-Essex’s athletes is Dayna Pidhoresky. The marathoner has not had the start she and her team had imagined when arriving in Tokyo and preparing for her event on August 6, Pidhoresky and her coach, Josh Seifarth, received word that they had been in close contact with someone on their flight to Tokyo.

  As a result, the pair were isolated in their rooms, with Pidhoresky having a lone exercise bike to train on while she waited for approval and negative tests to leave the quarantine and head to the athletes village. The Tecumseh native is appearing in her first Olympic games. 

The closing ceremony, on August 8, will wrap up the festivities for the nearly 11,000 athletes, who are competing for 206 countries. The closing ceremonies will also pass the torch from Tokyo to Paris as the next hosts for the 2024 Olympics.