From the Canadian Press
Eganville’s Melissa Bishop glanced over her shoulder at the scoreboard one final time Thursday night, as if to make sure she’d read it correctly.
Then, moments after making history in the women’s 800 metres, she switched her focus fully to Saturday night and the final at the world track and field championships.
The 27-year-old shattered Diane Cummins’ 14-year-old Canadian record, racing to a blistering time of one minute 57.52 seconds in a tactically-perfect race. It was the fastest time of the night out of three semifinals. “I need to call Diane. I’m very excited,” she said of her friend and longtime Canadian middle distance star.
Bishop didn’t have long to soak in the excitement. She spoke to reporters for 90 seconds before being whisked away by Athletics Canada staffto cool down. “I need to prepare, it’s coming up quick, not a whole lot of time, so it’s all exciting and really fun, but I need to look forward to the next two days,” she said hastily. Cummins’ mark of 1:58.39 was set in Rieti, Italy, in 2001.
Bishop is peaking at just the right time after a rocky start to her season. She had a torn abdominal muscle in the fall that wiped out her indoor season, then suffered an ankle injury in May that sidelined her for nearly a month. She rebounded in spectacular fashion to win last month’s Pan American Games in Toronto. The picture of her crossing the finish line with arms outstretched and a massive grin will be one of the most enduring images of those Games.
Bishop was in second spot Thursday with about 200 metres to go and appeared like she might get boxed in. But a path opened up down the home stretch and she sailed through to a victory in her semi.
Cummins cheered on Bishop from her home in Missoula, Montana. “I am so happy for Melissa,” she said. “We became friends towards the end of my career and I know Melissa to be a sweet, caring, honest person who works her butt off. She is keeping the women’s 800 metres alive. I love her to bits and am so happy she is achieving these great results.”
Cummins, who was fifth at the 2001 world championships, dominated the distance in Canada for the better part of a decade and then retired last year at the age of 40.
“Honestly, yes it sucks my record has been broken,” Cummins said. “But the fact that it’s Melissa doing the breaking trumps that 10-fold. So proud and excited for her.”