If you’re an Ottawa Lions fan, then Tuesday night between 11pm and midnight was a very exciting time as both Melissa Bishop and Sekou Kaba advanced to the semi-finals at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Bishop, who has stated her goal is to make the global final, secured her spot in the next round of competition by winning the sixth and final heat of the women’s 800m in a time of 2 minutes 0.23 seconds. The Eganville native’s fate was in question momentarily as she appeared to be boxed in running down the backstretch with 250m to go. However, as Bishop round the final corner, she displayed the same determination that led to her Pan Am Games gold last month in Toronto, waiting for a small hole to open up between the two leaders and forcing her way through and across the line.
“It felt comfortable, the goal was to be top three, I didn’t want to qualify with a little q, wanted the top 3, that was the little slip through the two girls, wanted to make sure it was secured, didn’t know who was coming behind me,” Bishop told Athletics Canada after the race. “My coach (Dennis Fairall) said to just run my race, he was confident in me, said everything would be fine. It was a really tough start to the year, two really major injuries. I’m thankful to be here, be in shape, and be strong; you take that for granted. We work so hard to get here, it’s great to move on to the next round.”
About 50 minutes after Bishop’s success, hurdler Sekou Kaba punched his own ticket to the semi-finals with a fourth place finish in the fifth and final heat. Running into a head wind, the Francophone Games champion crossed the line in a time of 13.46 seconds to equal the second best performance of his life. Kaba was pleased with his world championship debut, telling Athletics Canada, “I came in with a clear mind and doing what it takes to move on, that’s exactly what I did. No pre-race jitters, I don’t get those. We’re here to compete, compete we must. The goal in the next round is the same, do what it takes to move on.”
Club head coach Andy McInnis, never one to sugar coat things, commented the next round is “an impossible task, but strange things can happen. Sekou needs to stay relaxed and just compete.”
For the Lions other competitor on Tuesday night, hammer thrower Sultana Frizell, the end result was not as sweet as her teammates’. The two time Commonwealth Games champion came up agonizingly short in the qualification round, managing only to heave her hammer out to 69.66m – well short of her seasonal best of 73.66m. The result left Frizell in 13th place, just 20cm out of a position in Thursday’s Final. The pride of Perth was disappointed with the performance, but is looking forward, and aiming for Olympic success next summer in Rio.
Both Bishop and Kaba will race in the semi-finals early Thursday morning with Sekou running in the first of three semi-finals at 7:05 am eastern. Melissa will follow at 8:21 am in the third and final semi-final.
To catch all the action live, tune into CBCsports.ca.