Thursday, May 23, 2024

HIGH ACHIEVERS WRAP: Melissa Bishop-Nriagu keeps track season on hold, expecting third child

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By Martin Cleary

For the third consecutive year, middle-distance runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu will spend her summer on the sidelines rather than on the track.

But the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club athlete from Eganville, ON., is totally fine with that concept as she can still see the sport playing a role in her future.

Bishop-Nriagu’s thoughts are far from track these days as she’s in countdown mode to deliver her third child. It could happen any day this week.

“My summer track season is on hold,” Bishop-Nriagu wrote in a quick email last week to High Achievers. “We’re expecting baby #3 (this) week. I anticipate it will be into the fall before returning to running of any calibre before making plans for the next (2025) season.

“I know this is brief, but I’m pretty focused on our family, this baby’s imminent arrival and becoming a family of five. We’re very excited.”

Bishop-Nriagu missed the 2023 season because she was recovering from knee surgery to deal with a meniscus tear. She had the surgery in October, 2022.

As part of the OFSAA Virtual Student Forum last spring, she told about 1,000 high school students she wouldn’t be running in the 2023 season, but added “I’m still a track and field runner.”

She cancelled her 2022 season, the first one after her second Summer Olympics in Tokyo, because she was pregnant for her second child.

Bishop-Nriagu and her husband Osi have two daughters – Corinne, five, and Olivia, who will be two in July.

Being a mother and an elite runner inspire and motivate Bishop-Nriagu to the highest degree.

“I love being pregnant,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday. “Don’t get me wrong. There are more hard days than good. I’m not naïve to know how hard pregnancy can be for some people and their bodies.

“It’s not easy. But I’m enjoying what I can in these final days. And taking advantage of my nightly freezie and ice cream routine.”

Bishop-Nriagu’s last competitive race was July 30, 2021, at the Tokyo Olympics. Troubled by a hamstring injury, she placed fourth in her women’s 800-metre heat in two minutes, 2.11 seconds and missed advancing to the semifinals.

Her time was the third slowest 800-metre time of her 10-race outdoor season in 2021. She also posted five times under two minutes.

In 2015, Bishop-Nriagu won the women’s 800 metres at the Toronto Pan-Am Games and earned the silver medal at the world championships. During her Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, she was fourth in the 800-metre final and missed the bronze medal by 13 one-hundredths of a second.

CANADA SECURES 3 OLYMPIC BERTHS AT WORLD RELAYS

Meanwhile, Canada’s sprinters were reaching top speeds, winning medals, setting a national record and qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics on the weekend at the two-day World Athletics Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.

Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert of Ottawa felt good about the early-season meet as the men’s and women’s 4×100-metre and the women’s 4×400-metre relay teams qualified for this summer’s Olympics.

The men’s 4×100-metre relay team of Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse won their Saturday heat in 38.11 seconds to make the Olympic standard and captured the silver medal in Sunday’s final in a season-best 37.89 seconds. The United States won in a world-leading 37.40 seconds.

By placing second in its heat on Saturday, the women’s 4×100-metre team of Sade McCreath, Marie-Eloise Leclair, Audrey Leduc of Gatineau, and Crystal Emmanuel-Ahye earned an automatic berth into the Paris Games. The top two teams in Saturday’s heats moved forward to the Olympics.

Leduc, who broke the Canadian women’s 100-metre record last month with a run of 11.96 seconds, helped Canada to times of 42.98 seconds on Saturday and 43.09 seconds for seventh place in Sunday’s final.

Zoe Sherar, Aiyanna Stiverne, Alyssa Marsh and Kyra Constantine won the bronze medal Sunday in the women’s 4×400-metre final in a season-best 3:25.17. They qualified Canada for the Paris Olympics in Saturday’s heats, placing second at 3:27.17.

Ottawa Lions’ Lauren Gale was a reserve on the women’s 4×400-metre team.

But Gale was a vital part of the national mixed 4×400-metre team, which placed third in its heat in a program-best 3:14.66. But Canada missed second place by 0.54 seconds and won’t attend the Olympics. The mixed relay team was fifth in the Saturday heat in 3:16.65. Michael Roth, Callum Robinson, Maddy Price and Tyler Floyd were other members of the mixed relay program.

The Canadian men’s 4×400-metre relay team of Jalon White, Marco Arop, Christopher Morales-Williams and Myles Misener-Daley was fifth in its heat on Saturday at 3:05.02 and fifth in the repechage final on Sunday at 3:03.29.

3 LOCAL PLAYERS SHARE IN CANADA’S U18 MEN’S HOCKEY GOLD

Three male hockey players with Ottawa connections are U18 world champions.

Forward Cole Beaudoin of Kanata and the OHL’s Barrie Colts and Ottawa 67’s defencemen Henry Mews of Ottawa and Frankie Marrelli of Markham, ON. played key roles in helping Canada win seven consecutive games to earn the gold medal at the IIHF men’s U18 hockey championship in Espoo-Vantaa, Finland.

After winning four round-robin games and outscoring its opponents 31-7, Canada defeated Latvia 4-0 in the quarterfinals, Sweden 5-4 in the semifinals and the United States 6-4 in the final.

Beaudoin counted two goals and two assists in the tournament, including one goal in the gold-medal game. Mews had a point-a-game average with two goals and five assists, including three assists against the Americans. Marrelli contributed one goal and one assist.

3 CARLETON RAVENS OFF TO FISU 3X3 BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

The Carleton University women’s basketball program has earned a prestigious honour, two months after winning its second straight U Sports national championship.

U Sports named four players and two coaches from the Ravens to represent Canada at the FISU America women’s 3×3 basketball championship in Cipolletti, Argentina, from Friday through Sunday.

The winner advances to the FISU University Basketball World Cup Nov. 22-24 in Xiamen, China.

The Canadian team will consist of Carleton guards Dorcas Buisa, Teresa Donato and Kyana-Jade Poulin as well as forward Jacqueline Urban. All four players helped the Ravens win the 2023 and 2024 OUA and U Sports women’s basketball championships.

Carleton head coach Dani Sinclair will hold the same position for the Canadian team, while her Ravens’ assistant Michelle Abella will carry that role to Argentina.

GCBA WOLVERINES U16 GIRLS TOP ONTARIO CUP

Meanwhile at the Ontario Cup in Thorold, ON., Gloucester-Cumberland Wolverines (Valery) defeated Sudbury Jam 44-39 to win the girls’ U16 division 1 gold medal. The Wolverines won all four games.

In the girls’ U16 division 4 championship game, Ottawa Next Level (Pampararo/Laale) defeated Prescott Russell Rockets 46-34 in the final game of their provincial tournament.

Ottawa South (Kilfoil/Cornell) turned back OSS (Derek O’Neill) 51-38 to win the girls’ U16 division 2 bronze medal.

In the girls’ U15 division 2 final, West Ottawa lost 43-39 to VCB U15 (Black) and picked up the silver medal.

LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST

· Canada Topflight Academy’s Caylan MacLean, a six-foot, five-inch guard/forward, has committed to attend McGill University in the fall and play for the men’s basketball Redbirds.

· Shainah Joseph and Vicky Savard, both of Ottawa, have been named to the Canadian women’s team roster for the opening session of the Volleyball Nations League, which runs Monday through May 19 in Rio de Janeiro. Canada is ranked 11th in the world and remains in contention for earning a berth to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

· Kara Blair of Westport, ON, won the Ottawa’s Fastest Women’s five-kilometre race during the Run to Empower road event in 17 minutes, 19 seconds. The open Run to Empower five-kilometre race was taken by teenager Adriano Padoin-Castillo in 16:44.

· Nepean Ravens’ Emily Price has been named Ontario ringette coach of the year, while Geoff Beswick is the regional coach of the year and Shannon Bertels was selected the volunteer of the year.

· Ottawa touch football icon Ed Laverty will be inducted posthumously into the builders’ category of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum in Hamilton. Laverty also is a member of the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame.

· Vanessa Chiappetta of Rigaud, PQ, and the Carleton University Ravens has been named to the U Sports national team for the FISU World University women’s rugby 7s championship June 10-12 in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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