Mon, September 23, 2013

Eganville runner gears up for London Games

By TIM BAINES, QMI Agency


Eganville runner Melissa Bishop (R) (Mark Blinch, Reuters)

OTTAWA - When Melissa Bishop qualified for the Olympic 800-metre run July 1 at the Canadian track and field championships in Calgary, it was a huge weight lifted off her shoulders.

After she crossed the finish line, she could hear her mother Alison and aunt Donna screaming their support. Later, as she met with her family, also including dad Doug, brother Jonathan and cousin Jenny, all the emotions came out. There were lots of hugs, a few tears. It just made everything worthwhile — all the long, hard days, the sacrifices, all the bumps along the way ... she was going to the Olympics. And that’s all that mattered.

“I remember sitting on the couch at the cottage and watching the opening ceremonies, watching the track and field events and thinking, ‘These girls are so fast.’

“And now, here I am — in that exact position. I’m very, very excited for this. This is the ultimate dream.”

London and its Olympic showcase is a great place to be for the 23-year-old runner, who grew up just outside small-town Eganville, a town that has latched onto her and shown its support in bundles.

Bishop has spent plenty of hours running along the lake, along Point Church Rd., and up and down the hills on Stone Hedges Rd. — obviously time well spent.

“There’s been a lot of support from home and the valley,” said Bishop, an Ottawa Lions alumnus. “It is absolutely great. I can’t put into words what it means, but the support has been a huge boost.”

As a kid, Bishop was also involved in hockey, volleyball and soccer, but pushed them aside to work on running while at Opeongo High School.

After graduating from the University of Windsor, Bishop has spent the last year training full-time.

“It’s allowed me to really focus on the training and get much more in tune with my body,” said Bishop.

There have been times over the years where Bishop has had to give herself a nudge to get at it again, but those moments don’t last long.

“There are days in the winter when it’s gloomy out and I don’t want to go for a run,” he said. “But I just have to think about what’s down the road and that gets my butt off the couch very quickly.”

She has a personal best of 1:59.82, but isn’t worried about the numbers right now.

“A personal best would be really nice. But I’m just trying to stay grounded and focused on what I am trying to do,” said Bishop, one of only four Canadian women (joining Diane Cummins, Charmaine Crooks and Jessica Smith) to break the two-minute barrier.

That steely focus will get her through to the Olympic opening ceremony.

You can bet all of Eganville and people up through the valley will be watching for their girl.

THE BISHOP FILE

Event: 800-metre run

Age: 23

Height: 5-foot-8

Hometown: Eganville

High school: Opeongo H.S.

Twitter: @BishopMelissa

tim.baines@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @TimCBaines