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Canada’s Melissa Bishop-Nriagu qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games on Sunday with her first sub-two-minute 800m performance of the year. She won the race at the Chula Vista High Performance Meet #3 in San Diego, CA, clocking a 1:59.04. It is a big leap forward from her 2:02.51 performance at the University of Victoria on March 27.
For Bishop-Nriagu, the third Canadian to break the two-minute barrier after Charmaine Crooks (1:58.52) and Diane Cummins (1:58.39) before her, has now run below the benchmark 25 times. Her personal best is a 1:57.01, which she ran in Monaco at the Diamond League meet in 2017. It stands as the current national record. She has also run a 1:57.02, which she achieved finishing fourth during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The Tokyo Olympic qualifying time is 1:59.50.
The Eganville, ON native, has a silver medal from the 2015 Beijing World Athletics Championships and a Pan American Games gold medal from Toronto 2015.
In Rio, she finished behind Caster Semenya of South Africa who lives with a condition called hyperandrogenism, which results in her naturally producing high levels of testosterone. The silver and bronze medallists from that race are also suspected to have the condition. World Athletics has successfully ruled (for the second time) that Semenya is required to take testosterone-limiting medication to compete in middle distances, which she refuses to do.
The 32-year-old lost her long-time coach Dennis Fairall who passed away late last year, is now coached by Canadian exercise physiologist Trent Stellingwerff. She spent part of the winter in Victoria, BC where he works at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific.
Bishop-Nriagu, who is expected to medal in Tokyo, will race twice more in May, then return home to Windsor, ON. She has a daughter who is nearly three years old.
The comeback from childbirth in July 2018 seemed to be gradual, the delay in the Olympics and the break in the qualifying period appears to be a blessing for Bishop-Nriagu, who now appears to be rounding into form, just in time.
Results are available here>>