Bishop-Nriagu, Kelly to compete in 800-metre heats in Tokyo Thursday night
EGANVILLE, ONT. -- An Olympic hero from the Ottawa Valley is set to appear at her third Olympic Games Thursday night, as Eganville’s Melissa Bishop-Nriagu will race in the women’s 800-metre event.
Parents Doug and Alison Bishop have been here before, having watched their daughter compete at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 games, but they say it never gets easier.
“Always nervous, and pretty excited at the same time, obviously,” says Doug Bishop, of watching his daughter compete at the Olympics. “But you’re always on the edge; what’s going to happen, we don’t know.”
Bishop-Nriagu, ranked 27th in the world, is set to race in Heat 3 Thursday night, which is slated to begin at 9:41 p.m. ET. Teammate and fellow Ottawa Valley Olympian Madeleine Kelly from Pembroke, ranked 50th in the world, will race in Heat 1 at 9:25 p.m. ET.
For Kelly, it will be her first Olympic Games. Kelly won bronze at the Canadian Olympic Trials to earn her spot in Tokyo.
“It's very exciting you know that we've worked so hard for this,” says Bishop-Nriagu. “2020 was tough; I mean we found out that the Olympics were cancelled and so we've all had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how we're going to train through this. And I think ultimately we've all come out of this stronger, fitter, faster, and mentally stronger too.”
Bishop-Nriagu is the pride of Eganville, Ontario, competing at her third Olympic Games, as well as winning gold at the Pan Am games in 2015, silver at the AAF World Championships in 2015, and holding the Canadian women’s 800-metre record at 1:57:01.
“Not only is she making her small town proud, she’s making it possible for any athlete from anywhere in Canada feel like they can accomplish something,” says her former running coach Andrew Page.
“It’s the most wonderful place to be, most wonderful place,” Alison Bishop says of the small town of Eganville. “Wonderful people, have been always behind her, from high school right through.”
Due to the pandemic, the Bishops could not travel to Tokyo to watch their daughter compete. In previous years, there have been watch parties hosted in town but Thursday evening the couple plan to spend the night quietly in front of their TV.
“That’s kind of the way we like it,” laughs Doug Bishop.
Page says he’ll do the same, trying to keep his nerve the entire time, and as Bishop-Nriagu’s former coach he says the way she attacks tonight’s race will be an interesting watch.
“In the races she’s been going out and leading the races from the front, and practicing that tactic,” explains Page. “So I don’t know what she’s going to do tonight. I’m guessing she’s going to go out and lead the race. I don’t know what she’s got in store, and I don’t know if her competitors know what she’s got in store for them.”
“Go for it girls,” says Alison Bishop, cheering on her daughter and Pembroke’s Kelly. “Enjoy the Olympics, and thank you to the community for all the support.”