Mother of Olympian cheers from the sidelines

BARRY’S BAY – It’s not every day that a parent dreams that their child may one day go to the Olympics.
For Eganville resident Alison Bishop, that dream has become a fast-moving reality.

In an exclusive interview with the Gazette, Bishop talked about her fears, joys and trials that are all linked with her daughter, Melissa, who is running in the 800-metre race on August 8 in London, England.
Bishop found it hard to contain her excitement at the time of the interview.
“I am very, very excited. I can’t wait to get there. We head out on Sunday, which is actually Melissa’s 24th birthday, and we fly out that day. Oddly enough, she’s actually traveling from Germany to London that day, too. My brother and his wife are going along with myself and my husband Doug,” she said.
For Bishop, seeing her daughter progress as a runner over many years has been a journey on many levels.
“She started competitively running in Grade 8. She was 14. She wanted to go to the Ottawa Lions before that but
that was the age where it really began to unfold,” she noted.
And now, a decade later, all of that hard work has paid off.
Even at an early age, Melissa had some speedy capabilities that were seen by her parents while she was playing soccer.
Winning an individual and team silver in cross-country at Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations in Grade 9, Melissa picked up a few gold medals in Grade 10 and continued to progress, winning first in the 800 in Grade 11.
For much of her high school career, Melissa often had to travel to Ottawa for special training, and to further her training with the Ottawa Lions at Glebe Collegiate in her Grade 12 year.
Bishop remembers the early days of carting her daughter back and forth to Ottawa like it was just yesterday.
“All through high school, we took her to Ottawa two or three times a week for running, often with the help of grandparents. There were a couple other drivers for a few years who would share rides, but the last few years, it was mostly us driving. But she was such a gamer, though, so it wasn’t a hardship in any way,” Bishop said.
Her mother, with all of the hype and excitement attached to Melissa, is very grateful for the support of the surrounding communities.
“The upper Ottawa Valley has been tremendously supportive and behind us all the way, as well as the city of Windsor. That’s where she trains and that’s where her coach Dennis Fairall lives,” she said.
Bishop explained that Melissa found the University of Windsor in a rather indirect fashion.
“She went to Ottawa U for a year and they had a track program but that didn’t fare out. So after looking at a few places, she transferred to Windsor,” she said.
Expecting her daughter to accept an offer from either UBC or Western University, Bishop was shocked when Melissa made the University of Windsor her post-secondary school of choice.
Under the close watch of Coach Dennis Fairall, Windsor became Melissa’s Olympic training ground.
Notwithstanding all of the media attention and positive energy, Bishop has felt definitive moments of stress and tension as her daughter has advanced.
“I do feel stress at times, very much so. My husband Doug and I both feel that, at times. But really, the nerves were 100 times worse before Canadian Olympic trials. That was a really intense moment. She’d met A standard but she had to be one, two or three to make it. But now, to see your child fulfill her dreams is just an amazing thing,” she said.
Story continues in August 8 issue of The Valley Gazette.