Melissa Bishop after taking silver in the 800m at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)
During a breakthrough year, Canadian 800m runner Melissa Bishop grabbed the Pan American title, the national record and a world silver medal. We ask the rising middle-distance talent about some of the best and greatest elements to her life.
My best friend
Canadian hammer thrower (and Commonwealth champion) Sultana Frizell. Before I went to university, we lived together for a year during my last year at high school. We are both from two small towns just outside of Ottawa and we clicked straight away. She is hysterical and she can make you happy in a second. She is one of my best friends, not only the circuit, but also outside of track and field.
My best achievement
I’m going to go with the Canadian record (of 1:57.52 set in the 2015 World Championships semi-finals) followed by my silver medal at the World Championships. The reason why I experienced more satisfaction out of the record was because it was a 1:57.52 and it was not like I broke the previous record (1:58.39) by a small margin. Also the person who held the record, Diane Cummins, is a very dear friend of mine. She was just exiting her career as I was entering mine, but she’s always been so supportive. I can turn to her for anything, so one of my first thoughts when I broke the record was I need to call Dianne because she would be so excited.
My greatest rival
I am so new to the competitive international scene, so I don’t really have one rival. Every athlete pushes me to be better. On any given day it could be anyone. I think all of my competitors are my rivals.
The best track venue
The Bird’s Nest Stadium. Obviously, I have enjoyed some personal success there but the architecture of the stadium alone is just stunning and the track is very fast.
The best piece of coaching advice
This is from my coach Dennis Fairall who always says, ‘respect all, but fear none’, meaning have confidence in your ability but don’t fall asleep because on any given day anyone can be on fire. He says this quote to me ahead of every race and it is probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had. He wants all of his athletes to do well while being respectful of their rivals.
My best achievement outside of track and field
My two degrees. I have a degree in kinesiology and a bachelor of education degree. I’m proud of the fact I was able to do well in these while balancing the needs of a student athlete. I hope to use them one day after my running career is over.
My greatest disappointment
The London 2012 Olympics. That race was such a huge disappointment (Bishop exited the heats, finishing fifth in a time of 2:09.33) I didn’t have the mental skills to get through the rounds back then and I was heartbroken with the result. Fortunately, I’m happy to say that I have learned from my mistakes. I had so many expectations going into 2012 and it didn’t work out my way.
My greatest indulgence
I love to bake. I don’t do it so much during the season but during the fall and Christmas I love to bake cookies and breads. I make really good cinnamon buns – it is my Christmas morning staple. I enjoy baking because it is calming and helps me relax. I love making bread and seeing whether the yeast is going to rise and fall and trying to bake at the right temperature becomes a challenge. When the end result tastes good, that is a great feeling. I get so much satisfaction from diving into something that I have made from scratch.
The greatest athlete I have ever seen
Ashton Eaton. I’ve really got to know him as a person in the past few years and he’s so humble and down to earth and yet he has managed to master 10 different events in track and field. After he broke the world record in Beijing I was sat with Brianne (Theisen-Eaton and Ashton’s wife) and Damian Warner, the Canadian decathlete. Ashton had just broken the world decathlon record in Beijing yet he didn’t even speak of the world record. All he wanted to talk about was how much pasta he could ingest. He said ‘Do you think I could eat all of this right now?’ He’s a great guy and one of the greatest athletes, for sure.
Steve Landells for the IAAF