Like so many residents of the GTA, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep fights traffic and keeps a sharp eye on the price of housing.
At 27, she lives with her husband, Bronson Schliep, in her parents' renovated basement suite in Whitby while they look to buy a place that's affordable. Commuting to York University for workouts takes between 45 minutes and an hour-and-a-half in cottage traffic. Yet while Lopes-Schliep braves Hwy. 401 every day with the masses, she's also an international track star.
"I'm the kind of person who's not going to change who I am," she said. "I get a lot of respect when I go and do speeches and talk to kids. But throwing my weight around, it's not going to happen. I don't think of myself as a bronze medallist at the Olympics. It's just the same Priscilla."
And she is. While she admits to having "your ups and your downs, like any other job," Lopes-Schliep consciously works on keeping a positive outlook. Married since Nov. 2007, working with the same coach, Anthony McCleary, for 11 years, and back living in the area where she grew up, success hasn't changed her.
"Everything in its time," is her mantra. There's calmness and a smile in her voice as she says it. If she wins an event, it was meant to be. If she doesn't, it just wasn't her time.
This season, it looks like Lopes-Schliep's time has come. She won a bronze medal at the 2010 world indoor championship in Doha, Qatar, in March, along with second-places at Diamond League races in Poland and Norway and wins at the Meeting du Val d'Oise, in France, the Sparkassen Cup in Germany and the Millrose Games in New York. At the 2009 worlds in Berlin, Germany she won silver to go along with the Olympic bronze from Beijing in 2008.
That makes her the only athlete in her event to have medalled at the world level for three years in a row.
"I know I've been given a gift from God, it's a blessing," Lopes-Schliep said. "Life is short and doing athletics, especially as a female, is even shorter. I'm going to go out there and keep training and loving it."
It hasn't hurt her profile that she's one half of the Canadian "P&P show," the ongoing rivalry between Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien of Pickering, a four-time world championship medallist. Felicien also is in great form this year, beating Lopes-Schliep by just a hundredth of a second (7.86 to 7.87 seconds) in the 60-metre hurdles at the 2010 indoor worlds.
The two will square off for the 31st time in their careers at the Canadian track and field championships July 28-31 at Varsity Stadium at the U of T.
"If we're on the track, she's my rival," Lopes-Schliep said. "We don't hold back. She wants something I want and definitely the rivalry is there. What's going to happen that day is what's meant to be."
Looking ahead to the 2012 Olympics, Lopes-Schliep's support system is nicely in place. Her American husband started his career as a dentist in Scarborough this spring after the two met at the University of Nebraska. He might specialize further, but is doing general dentistry for now while his wife enjoys the peak years of her athletic career.
"We've just got to make the sacrifices now and we'll reap the benefits later," Lopes-Schliep said. "I would love to beat my personal best of 12:49 (for the 100-metre hurdles). If I can run faster than that this year, you might see me do a little dance on the track."
Nothing before its time.