Road To The Olympic Games


Melissa Bishop heartbroken after missing 800 podium

Canada's Melissa Bishop turned in a national record but could not hold off Kenya's Margaret Wambui, who passed her en route to a bronze medal in the women's 800-metre final.

'This is tough,' Canadian says after missing medal by 13-100ths of a second

Canada's Melissa Bishop ran a Canadian record time in the women's 800-metre to finish fourth on Saturday night in Rio. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

By Callum Ng, CBC Sports

She withstood the pushing, she beat half the field, but in the 800 metres on Saturday night, Canada's Melissa Bishop could not fight off Kenya's Margaret Wambui in the final straight for the bronze medal. 

The 28-year-old finished fourth, lowering her Canadian record with a time of one minute 57.02 seconds.

A courageous run wasn't enough for the Eganville, Ont., native to avoid disappointment from washing over her face after crossing the finish line. 

"It's really kind of hard to describe this right now," said Bishop, "This is what we work for for a decade and to be that close...this is tough."

Wambui charged pass Bishop in the final straight to finish with a time of 1:56.89, only 13-100ths of a second ahead of the Canadian.

South Africa's Caster Semenya ran in 1:55.28 to win gold as expected, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi took silver in 1:56.49.

Entering the race Bishop had run the third-fastest 800 of the year, behind Caster then Niyonsaba.

Bumped early, the Canadian would later defend her space well. With a determined Niyonsaba leading everyone, Bishop entered the final bend a touch behind Semenya, but ahead of Wambui and Belarus' Marina Arzamasova on her outside.

As the corner unfurled, Semenya had skipped past Niyonsaba and Bishop emerged in third place, clinging to the bronze medal position. 

In the final straight the Canadian's form wavered little, but the Kenyan would haul herself ahead of Bishop only 20 metres from the line with a gritty effort.

In her television interview Bishop would be appear devastated.

"Just to stay up with them and stay relaxed," said Bishop of her strategy, "We're fit enough right now to run that so...I, I don't know."

Bishop was also emotional when asked about her longtime coach Dennis Fairall who is challenged by progressive supranuclear palsy, a degenerative condition that has no cure.

"Dennis has been on this journey with me for the entire time so it's really special to have him there on the warm-up track with me supporting me all the way, I know he's excited," she said.

Semenya's win means more

Semenya's comfortable win will no doubt invigorate the sensitive and complex debate around whether women with much higher levels of testosterone than normal have an advantage, and if they do, is the race still fair?

Semenya is believed to be one of a number of female athletes to compete at Rio 2016 with very high testosterone — caused by a condition called hyperandrogenism.

Her world title in 2009, also a 1:55 victory, caused the IAAF to introduce rules limiting testosterone in female athletes.

But under a legal challenge, the IAAF was forced to drop the testosterone-limiting rules last year. Many believe that left Semenya, and others, free to run again with their very high naturally-occurring testosterone levels.

With files from Gerald Imray of The Associated Press


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.