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Melissa Bishop-Nriagu at Victoria Track Classic. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Melissa Bishop-Nriagu, Canada’s all-time greatest 800-metre runner, back after two years, raced the 1500-metre event at the Johnny Loaring Classic in Windsor, Ontario on May 18.

She won in the time of 4:09.36. It was her first competitive race in two years. Her time broke her own meet mark and personal best of 4:09.58, set in 2017, as she finished 12 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. She also won in 2016.

Bishop-Nriagu will be racing again June 7 in Guelph at the Speed River Inferno as well as June 20 at the Harry Jerome Track Classic in Vancouver.

In regards to the Johnny Loaring Classic race, it was a rust buster and a benchmark to measure where her fitness is.

“It was a very big rust-buster being my first race in two years.”

As for the performance, she was satisfied.

“I would say the performance is in-line with where I thought I was. I obviously have very high expectations of myself, and to come out of that with a small personal best; I’ll take it.”

As for race strategy, there apparently was none – she just wanted to go fast and to see where her effort would take her.

Bishop-Nriagu told Athletics Illustrated, “There were zero tactics involved; the goal of the race was to see how fast I could run and put a line in the sand as to where fitness is at. It was a fitness tester if you will.”

As for the summer, she will be getting fit in advance of the 2019 IAAF World Track and Field Championships that start on Sept. 28 in Doha, Qatar, but for now, her summer plans depend on what competitive opportunities there are to race after June.

“I only have about the month of June planned with two races currently: June 7th in Guelph, and Vancouver on June 20.”

Bishop-Nriagu finished fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games against a field that included three apparently intersex athletes, who finished 1-2-3. The exact same result happened the next year in London, during the 2017 IAAF World Track and Field Championships.

At least two of the medallists naturally produce as much as 10 times the volume of testosterone as non-intersex athletes. Bishop-Nriagu would need to take performance-enhancing drugs to increase her T-levels to their level.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that intersex athletes will need to take medication to limit their T-levels. Although there may be an appeal pending from Caster Semenya, she will only be able to compete in distances no short than 2K without the medication.

Bishop-Nriagu owns the national 800m record at 1:57:01.