Canada's Melissa Bishop is headed for her first Olympic final
RIO DE JANEIRO - She may be headed to her first Olympic final, but Canada’s Melissa Bishop isn’t intimidated by the stage.
Nor will the Eganville, Ont. native by bothered by the presence of South Africa’s Caster Semenya, the clear favourite in Friday’s 800-metre final.
Bishop is clearly on her game now, the reigning silver medallist from last year’s world championships in Beijing and an impressive runner-up in her Olympic semifinal on Thursday.
Bishop had the fifth fastest time of all qualifiers at Olympic Stadium, stopping the clock in 1:59.05. But the time only told part of the story.
With an impressive kick from 150 metres, Bishop showed how formidable she can be in the stretch then eased up for the final 20-plus metres with her spot in the final secure.
The gold medallist at the Pan Am Games in Toronto last summer, Bishop had the fastest time in preliminary heats here on Wednesday. And now the University of Windsor grad feels she has put herself in position to contend for a medal.
“I think everyone here at the Olympic Games is going for the podium,” said Bishop. “Everyone wants a win. I’m certainly going to aim to be the best athlete and the best version of myself I can be on that day. If I leave everything out on the track, then I’ll know I’ve done my job.”
In Thursday’s, Bishop eventually shook free from a crowded bunch to make a clear run over the final 800 metres.
“When there’s eight of us trying to run in one lane, it gets pretty tight,” Bishop said. “I think it’s just making yourself aware. You know how long your stride is. You just have to gauge it off what everyone else’s is. It’s tough.
“I’m really excited. This is my first Olympic final, but certainly not my first final. So I think if I can rest up and recover well and come here on the day with everything at 100 per cent, I’ll be okay.”
While certainly in medal contention, gold may be a reach given the dominance of Semenya, not that Bishop is phased by that challenge, either.
“Every competitor is beatable,” Bishop said. “I’m lining up on the line with these girls so of course I want to think I can beat anybody. Why not? The sky is the limit here.
“At the end of the day, she’s a competitor like the rest of us. I just have to focus on what I can do. It’s the only thing I can control.”