Lancer alumna looking to Olympics

Melissa Bishop at Pan Am GamesMelissa Bishop earns gold in the 800m race at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Olympian and UWindsor graduate Melissa Bishop (BHK 2010, B.Ed 2011) has her eye on the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and is currently training to once again put her country—and her alma mater—on the world stage in the 800 metre race.

Bishop ran the 800m at the 2012 London Summer Olympics but did not advance to the semi-finals. She did, however, win gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto in July and followed up in August with a silver-medal performance at the World Championships in Beijing, where she set a Canadian record with a time of 1:57:52.

While studying human kinetics at UWindsor, Bishop trained with celebrated Lancer track and field and cross country coach Dennis Fairall. She says when she was a teenager shopping universities, Fairall was a huge draw.

“I chose Windsor in part because of the HK program, but also because Dennis had a long standing run of sending the track team to championships,” says Bishop. “I came for a visit when I was in my final year of high school and saw the facilities and it was a no-brainer that I would come to UWindsor.”

She went on to co-captain the track team and won the Banner Shield as top female Lancer athlete in 2010, when her three gold medals at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship meet led Windsor to its second straight national team title.

Bishop says her time at UWindsor was special not just because of her involvement with varsity sports; her academic program was a perfect fit.

“I love that program and keep strong ties with the people there,” she says.  “The faculty is so accommodating, easy going and approachable, they’re willing to help you with anything.”

The athlete says when she decided to focus her life full-time to training for the 2016 Summer Olympics, there was no question in her mind that she would stay in Windsor and continue to train with Fairall.

She says UWindsor recognizes the importance of training both mentally and physically for competition. She lauds the contributions of clinical sport psychologists, like professor Krista Chandler.

“Talking to a clinical sports psychologist is about talking out the fears and what can happen in a race,” says Bishop.  “Even when you get to the world stage of the Olympics, I think everyone has the same capabilities, but it comes down to who is ready on that day, a lot can be hindered by your mental preparation.”

Bishop must finish in one of the top three spots at the national Olympic trials in June 2016 to qualify to compete in Rio.