“I want a medal in Tokyo”

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Two Ottawa Valley women will take to the track in Japan tonight as they take part in qualifying heats for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Madeleine Kelly of Pembroke and Melissa Bishop-Nriagu of Eganville will represent Canada in the women’s 800m.

These are Kelly’s first Olympics and Bishop-Nriagu’s third.

Kelly will race tonight at approximately 9:25 pm Eastern time while Bishop-Nriagu will run at 9:41 pm.

“We are extremely proud of these exceptional athletes. We will be watching and cheering along with the rest of the residents of Renfrew County on Thursday night, said Renfrew County Warden Debbie Robinson.

“Both of these women proudly represent not only their country, but also the determination and dreams of the people who live in their hometowns of Pembroke and Eganville, and across Renfrew County. We wish both these Olympians the best of luck and success in Tokyo.”

Bishop-Nriagu made her Olympic debut at the 2012 games in London, and raced again in Rio 2016 where she lowered her own national record to 1:57.02 and finished fourth.

She was a special guest speaker at Mackenzie Community School’s Class of 2021 virtual graduation at the end of June.

Speaking via video message, Bishop-Nriagu said she has been chasing her Olympic dreams for more than 10 years, and when she learned the 2020 Tokyo Games would be postponed, “my heart sank.”

“I have worked harder than ever to be where I am today, and you’re telling me it may not go on?”

But Bishop-Nriagu said out of that setback, she faced a choice. She could scale back on her training, focus on her family, and hope she would make the Olympic team if the Games did go ahead.

Or she could throw herself “100 per cent into training, focus on being better, faster, stronger, so that if the games were a go, I would be ready.”

“I had a choice to make, and I knew very well what I wanted. I want a medal in Tokyo,” she said.

“And now here we are… weeks from the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. I am this close to making my third Olympic team, and I am better, I am faster, I am stronger, and I am so thankful for the commitment that I made to me a year and a half ago.”

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