Melissa Bishop of Eganville, Ontario is going to the 2012 London Olympic Games. She qualified for the highly competitive 800m distance by bettering the A+ Canadian Standard of 1:59.90, while finishing top-three at the Canadian Olympic Track and Field Trials final race on June 30th.
Until this year, only two Canadian women in history had run under 2:00 for the distance, Charmaine Crooks who ran as fast as 1:58.52 and current Canadian record holder Diane Cummins who ran 1:58.39. During 2012 that number has doubled as Bishop also broke the barrier as has Greater Vancouver's Jessica Smith with their times of 1:59.82 and 1:59.86, respectively.
The final hurdle to qualify for the games for Bishop was to finish top-three at the Trials in Calgary, Alberta. The Trials took place from June 27th to June 30th. Bishop finished second in a leisurely 2:07.56 in that final race. The race started slow and came down to a kick; Bishop simply cruised to her Olympic berth, rounding the far bend from mid-pack to finish just behind Victoria, BC's Lemlem Ogbasilassie (Bereket).
Results from the final race, Saturday, June 30th:
1Ogbasilassie, Lemlem - 2:07.37
2 Bishop, Melissa - 2:07.56
3 Smith, Jessica L. - 2:07.70
4 Cummins, Diane E. - 2:07.79
5 Belleau-Béliveau, Kar - 2:08.44
6 Francois, Rachel - 2:09.15
7 Maclean, Leanna - 2:09.58
8 Kawamoto, Julia - 2:10.23
Before the Trials took place, Bishop and I had time to conduct this interview below.
Christopher Kelsall: You have had a very timely rise in your performances in the 800m distance. Recently running the A standard with your 1:59.82 and two B standards. Is this the result of you switching to training full-time?
Melissa Bishop: Yes, I fully believe that my commitment full time to track this year has really paid off. I’ve become more aware of my what my body needs and what it can handle during training and recovery. It was a tough decision near the end of my season last year whether I was going to stay in school or focus on track. School will always be there, but this kind of opportunity is once in a lifetime. I don’t want to be 10 years down the road looking back and having any regrets. I don’t so far!
CK: Are you starting to feel some pressure towards your need to place top-three in Calgary at the trials with Lemlem Bereket, Jessica Smith and Diane Cummins also needing to qualify for the Olympics?
MB: The women’s 800 in Canada has a very strong field this year; it’s great for Canadian athletics. With so many women trying to qualify for the Olympics you can’t help but feel a little anxious and nervous; this is a dream for everyone and all of us want it just as much as the next girl.
CK: You give a lot of credit to your coach Dennis Fairall and his program. Can you describe what that program looks like?
MB: Dennis is a very smart man! Just look at the University of Windsor track and field program and how he has built it with the help of other coaches. There is so much success in that program and a lot of team unity which Dennis stresses (although I’m biased). This year’s training program was a little different than last. I didn’t have a CIS season (as I am done my eligibility) so my base season went longer than in years past. Mileage was up-ed and I started to include 2-a-day runs and focused more on plyo’s, weights, core, etc. We didn’t race very much indoors (maybe 3 times) and my mileage was still pretty high. Although I did have some great races indoors regardless of the fact that we were training through things. Coming into this outdoor season we started racing only about a week earlier than in years past. Until this point, training has been very similar to past years.
CK: How many hours per week do you run and spend in the gym?
MB: About 20-30 hours a week I will spend training, that includes long-runs, workouts on the track, weights, plyo’s and therapy
CK: In a few words can you describe Eganville?
MB: Eganville is a small town of about 1,300 people; nestled within the Ottawa Valley. It’s a small close knit community and has tons of character. We boast a beautiful downtown and the famous “Bonnechere Caves”.
CK: Ever go Spelunking at the Bonnechere Caves?
MB: Yes I have been to the Bonnechere Caves. If anyone is in the area I suggest a few hours at the Caves, it’s pretty interesting to see.
CK: What sports were you into while growing up in Eganville?
MB: Soccer, volleyball, basketball, and hockey. During high school we had a pretty good volleyball team and hockey team. Outside of school however, I was involved in competitive hockey. I played it right up until university almost.
CK: What position did you play in hockey? Are you a Senators fan?
MB: Usually centre and/or left wing. No way am I a Sens fan. A Leaf fan is more like it!
CK: Did Opeongo High School have a quality track program?
MB: Yes, I believe they did. Opeongo was a very small school in terms of size and number of students. We didn’t have big numbers, but in the few events that we had students in we excelled. When I was going through high-school we were lucky to have the support of many teachers and coaches; so that made a difference as well in terms of how well the program succeeded.
CK: What are your plans for your Human Kinetics degree?
MB: I may try and use my Human Kinetics degree and go back to school to further my education in health-care. I also have my Education degree, so I think that I will try and put that to use and become a teacher.
CK: With your 1:59.82 has it been more convenient to get into meets?
MB: After I ran the 1:59.82 we already had plans to race at Harry Jerome and Victoria International. Hopefully after trials when we plan our Europe series it will help to get into some meets.
CK: What are your summer training plans after the trials?
MB: That all depends on what happens at trials. However, we will be heading over to Europe at some point in July regardless of what happens at trials. We’ll try and get in some fast races over there, its my favorite time of year...race and rest! and you get to tour the world doing it.
CK: Paris, London and Monacco?
MB: Those would all be great to run in. It would be a great opportunity to gain some experience. I’m new to the scene of sub 2:00 minutes and bigger events like the Diamond League series. Maybe with a few more fast races under my belt it could happen.