What it takes to be No. 1 0
Olympian Melissa Bishop spoke to the Renfrew County District School Board recently about her experiences at the 2012 Summer Games. Here, she accepts a bouquet of flowers from Trustee David Kaiser. For more community photos, please visit our website photo gallery at www.thedailyobserver.ca.
The 2012 Summer Games may be history, but the Olympic spirit still casts a powerful spell.
It certainly did over members of the Renfrew County District School Board, as they welcomed Melissa Bishop as their special guest during a recent board meeting. The former Eganville District Public School and Opeongo High School student, who ran for Canada in the 800 m in London, had been invited by the board to speak about her experiences competing in the Olympics, and answered questions about the long journey she took to fulfil her dream of competing in the Games.
She said the toughest obstacle she had to overcome was learning to be patient and to stay calm and collected during her races.
“It was hard to stay that way, because I wanted it that bad,” Ms. Bishop said. Once she qualified to compete, it took a while for the reality to sink in. Even entering the Olympic Stadium didn’t seem real at the time, and looking back, she sometimes finds it hard to accept she was there.
“I was living my dream, and how many can say that?” she said.
While she only ran in the first heat, Ms. Bishop said she was well aware she was among the top runners in the world, and it was a privilege to even be there.
“I learned so much from that one race, experience that I can carry forward to the next Olympics,” she said, stressing she will be building on that and her other accomplishments, working even harder to train for the 2016 Olympics.
Ms. Bishop’s first coach, Dennis Brash, who crossed paths with the athlete when she was in Grade 4, said many kilometres have passed since he first coached her.
“She showed character right at a young age,” he said, and her accomplishments have brought Eganville and Renfrew County into the spotlight in international athletic circles.
“I’m sure she has inspired us all,” he said.
The board remained starstruck throughout the presentation.
Trustee David Kaiser said he’s excited to be able to welcome Ms. Bishop to the meeting, stating he feels just like a kid.
“We’re meeting an Olympian,” he said, something he never dreamed of being able to say one day.
Gayle Bishop, the RCDSB’s superintendent of education assessment and evaluation services and Melissa’s aunt, said they have been keeping her busy with school visits all month. She said her niece has been an inspiration to all of them.
“Your journey has given us a connection to our board’s values,” she said, about meeting one’s responsibilities, of perseverance and courage, and in achieving one’s dreams. As such, she stands as a great example for their students to follow.
Ms. Bishop said while hard work and dedication is why she reached the Olympics, the main reason she runs is because she loves to do it.
“I have to have fun doing this,” she said. “If I’m not, then why would I do it?”