Continuing a history of inspirational speakers, the Commons at Algonquin Pembroke was graced by Melissa Bishop, 27, Gold Medal winner of the 2015 Pan Am Games, Silver Medal winner and Canadian record time holder of the 800-metre run set in Beijing, China.
On Sept.15 in front of an eager audience, Bishop carried her inspirational message to students about her success and the what it takes to persevere.
“It’s an honour for me to be an inspiration to people,” said Bishop.” No matter the age or gender it’s great to inspire people to get out and exercise.”
Born in Eganville just south of Pembroke, Bishop grew up with a passion for running. From the age of 12 she began running track and playing soccer where she began to show her talent often outpacing the rest. In later years, running for the University of Windsor Lancers, Bishop won numerous gold and silver medals in the Canadian Interuniversity Sports Championships and qualified to run in the Pan Am Games.
A few months before the Pan Am Games however, Bishop suffered a setback that could have easily knocked her out of contention. An abdominal sports hernia put her on the couch for six weeks.
“It was the hardest time that I’ve had in this career so far,” Bishop said.”I’ve been lucky up to this point to be injury free.”
To add to her struggles, a second ankle sprain in May before a race was heartbreaking. “This is it,” Bishop said.”I’m just going to call my season.”
Bishop with the backing of her family, friends and support team in conjunction with her own determination carried through the rehabilitation.
“I raced myself into shape. We did three races back to back to back and I got my standard the day before it was due,” said Bishop.”I was top two in Canada the day before they chose the team.”
From the despair of the injuries Bishop not only competed at the Pan Am Games but excelled winning the Gold Medal in Toronto in the 800-metre run. Further, she went on to set a women’s record time of 1:57:52 at the World Track and Field Championships in Beijing, China winning the Silver Medal.
“You have to be determined,” Bishop said.” If you have a goal go after it and do everything possible in your human power to make that happen.”
“Melissa has been a role model to a number of middle distance runners at the university of Windsor,” said acting coach Dennis Fairall.” She is always trying to help the program develop.”
Bishop is currently training for the upcoming 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.