Melissa Bishop celebrates as she won the gold medal in the women's 800 meter race at the Pan Am Games

Melissa Bishop-Nriagu

Biography

Melissa Bishop-Nriagu had a summer to remember in 2015. After winning 800m gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto, she went to the World Athletics Championships where she broke the 14-year-old national record in the distance, becoming the first Canadian to go below one minute 58 seconds with her time of 1:57.52. After that spectacular semifinal, she went on to win the silver medal in the final. It was quite a comeback for the runner who had missed the indoor season with a sports hernia that kept her out of training for seven weeks and then suffered an ankle injury in May that sidelined her for almost a month. It was the first time in her career she’d had to deal with a major injury, let alone two.

In her second Olympic Games at Rio 2016, Bishop-Nriagu lowered her own national record to 1:57.02 but finished a heartbreaking fourth in the 800m, matching Canada’s best ever Olympic result in the event. In 2017 she won her second straight national title in the 800m and her fourth overall before lowering the national record to 1:57.01 at the Diamond League meet in Monaco. At the World Athletics Championships, she ran under 1:58 to finish fifth.

After taking 2018 off to give birth to daughter Corinne, Bishop-Nriagu returned to competition in 2019 but had some difficulties with her post-pregnancy body meeting her high training demands. She decided to cut the season short to recover and prepare for Tokyo 2020. She started 2020 healthy before the competitions were halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In early May 2021, Bishop-Nriagu ran 1:59;40 at a meet in Chula Vista, California, putting her under the Olympic entry standard in the 800m. A week later, she improved her time to 1:58.62 at the USATF Golden Games. In early July, she posted her fastest time in nearly four years, running 1:58.36 in Sacramento.

Bishop-Nriagu made her Olympic debut at London 2012, the same year she first broke the two-minute mark in the 800m at the Prefontaine Classic. She won back-to-back national titles in 2013 and 2014. She made her IAAF World Championship debut in 2013 before gaining more multi-sport competition experience at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. While representing the University of Windsor Lancers, Bishop-Nriagu won multiple gold medals in the 600m and 1000m at the CIS Championships.

A Little More About Melissa

Getting into the Sport: Starting running laps for fun at school when she was 10 and began training and competing at age 13… Has always enjoyed the chase and setting out to run someone down… Longtime coach Dennis “Big Dawg” Fairall is her greatest inspiration; he passed away in November 2020 from progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare degenerative brain disease… Outside Interests: Earned Bachelor of Human Kinetics in 2010 and Bachelor of Education in 2011 from the University of Windsor… Enjoys cooking, baking, having low-key dinner parties, a morning coffee and a good book on the deck, and spending time with her family at the beach… Odds and Ends: Favourite motto: “Respect all, fear none”, something coach Dennis told her before races… Collects Christmas tree ornaments from around the world… Has had the same warmup before every race since her first time joining her track club…

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
2012 LondonAthletics800m - Women30
2016 RioAthletics800m - Women4

Notable International Results

Olympic Games: 2016 4th - (800m); 2012 - 30th (800m) Pan American Games: 2015 - GOLD (800m) Commonwealth Games: 2014 - 8th (800m), 5th (4x400m relay) World Athletics Championships: 2017 - (800m); 2015 SILVER - (800m); 2013 - 23rd (800m)