Olympian Melissa Bishop hopes to inspire Renfrew County high school students
Célina Ip / Daily Observer Olympian and 800m Canadian record holder Melissa Bishop delivered a keynote address to Renfrew County District School Board (RCDSB) Grade 11 students at Cobden Agricultural Hall on Oct. 12. Bishop encouraged the students to focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while stepping outside of their comfort zone.
COBDEN – Olympian Melissa Bishop visited Renfrew County Wednesday offering some inspiring words to Grade 11 students hoping to encourage them to take the path less followed.
The Summer Olympian and 800-metre Canadian record holder delivered a keynote address to the students taking part in the Renfrew County District School Board’s (RCDSB) Specialist High Skills Major conference at Cobden Agricultural Hall.
Bishop encouraged the students to focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while stepping outside of their comfort zone.
Bishop, an Eganville native, began by touching upon her early life experiences of growing up in the small town and becoming an avid participant with her high school’s track and field team.
After high school, Bishop transferred from the University of Ottawa to the University of Windsor and joined the school’s track and field team, which she said was one of the best decisions of her life.
“I trained constantly for an entire year. All I did was ‘run, eat, sleep, recover’,” said Bishop.
Bishop expressed how her passion for running and her willingness to step outside of her comfort zone is what ultimately led to the fulfilment of her childhood dream of becoming an Olympian.
Bishop participated in her first Olympics in 2012.
“I had little experience under my belt so I was under prepared,” said Bishop. “I ran 10 seconds slower than my fastest time that year.”
Bishop explained how that first Olympic experience became the driving force that fuelled her and led her on route to her future Olympic success.
After four years of steady training and commitment, Bishop said that she was fully prepared and confident when she stepped out on the track for the 800-metre run at her second Olympics this past summer in Rio de Janeiro.
“It has taken me years and years to find my place in the track and field world. But this year I had much more experience under my belt and I made my second Olympic team and earned fourth place at those games,” said Bishop. “It's a huge accomplishment and I can’t really express in words how it feels to have a dream for yourself since you were a little kid and then actually get to live it. I've been training for 15 years for that specific race in Rio. As disappointed as I was for coming out without a medal, I still think I had a really great performance and it was really exciting.”
Bishop offered encouragement to her audience and stressed that the students can also achieve their dreams if they don’t put any limitations on themselves.
“Just go out there, break out of the routine, try something new and if you don't like it then go back and try something else,” said Bishop.
Bishop drove her message home by repeating the old adage that ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’.
“Find out what it is that makes you uncomfortable and try it. Get out of what makes you feel safe and try something new,” said Bishop. “I guarantee you that any teacher in this room didn't get to this point in their career without being uncomfortable.”
Bishop said that she is eager to continue visiting schools in Renfrew County and inspiring high school students to chase after their dreams and see the limitless possibilities the world has to offer to them.
“It's nice to speak to the Grade 11s because I was in their shoes once too when you’re not really sure what kind of job you want to do and where life will lead you next,” said Bishop. “I came from a small town too and people from small towns can do big things. There should be no limitations because where you're from doesn't necessarily define who you are and what you'll do. I think that anybody in that room today will do great things in life.”