Melissa Bishop getting back on track after fourth-place finish at Rio Olympics
RIO-OLYMPICS-POSTMEDIA - Melissa Bishop of Team Canada competes in the 800m Final during the 2016 Rio Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday August 20, 2016. Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network
Melissa Bishop will not wallow in the disappointment of Saturday’s fourth-place finish in what many have called a controversial final of the Olympic women’s 800 metres at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
While most of Canada’s track and field team is set to return to the country on Wednesday, the middle-distance runner from Eganville and former University of Windsor Lancers standout is off to Lausanne, Switzerland for a Diamond League meet on Thursday.
“These have been planned prior to Rio,” Bishop, who will also run in Zurich on Sept. 1, said Tuesday. “Keeping up with my routine and continuing to race will help. I think it’s the downtime after the season is over that might be hard.”
The 28-year-old Bishop doesn’t deny she was devastated by Saturday’s race where she broke her own Canadian record to finish in 1:57.02, but saw Kenya’s Margaret Wambui catch her down the stretch to take the bronze medal.
South Africa’s Caster Semenya took gold in 1:55.28 and Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba captured the silver medal and there was some controversy over the results.
Some in the race openly questioned whether Semenya should have been allowed to compete due to a condition called hyperandrogenism, where a runner’s testosterone level is elevated. It’s also been suggested that Niyonsaba and Wambui might also have a similar condition.
Poland’s Joanna Jozwik, who was fifth in Saturday’s final, and Great Britain’s Lynsey Sharp, who was sixth, have both openly questioned the fairness of female athletes competing with high levels of testosterone, but it’s not a debate Bishop will wade into.
“There is so much controversy right now,” Bishop said. “I’m silent because I literally have zero control over this issue.”
The IAAF introduced rules limiting testosterone in female athletes years ago, but was forced to drop the testosterone-limiting rules last year after a legal challenge.
“No one in the race has control over this,” Bishop said. “Me missing the podium is because I didn’t run fast enough, not because of who was in the race. The only thing I can do is keep competing and keep doing what I love.”
Bumped and jostled early in the race, Bishop has played the race over and over in her mind wondering if there was something she could have done differently.
“On any other day, I probably would be very pleased with that time, but because it was in an Olympic final, and I was aiming for podium, it just doesn’t feel as good,” Bishop said. “I’ve been training for the final for the last decade and it was over so quick … I’ve run through this race multiple times and I don’t know what I would’ve done differently.”
Longtime coach Dennis Fairall believes in time that Bishop will be able to realize her accomplishment.
“She was noticeably very upset, (but) I focused on the positive,” Fairall said of making the final and setting a Canadian record. “She raced very well.”
Bishop is looking forward to getting back to Canada. Her hometown of Eganville, Ont., has a parade planned for next month and she’s also planning her wedding to long-time boyfriend and former Lancer Osi Nriagu next fall. At the same time, Bishop’s also not ruling out another cycle leading up to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
“Grand scheme, yes to Tokyo in 2020,” Bishop said. “I’ve had an outpouring of support. I haven’t been able to respond to everyone, but I have seen some really nice things.
“I could use a good hug from my support team. They’ve also worked tirelessly with me for the last while (and) I know they feel this, too, as do many fans and friends.
“It will be good to be home.”