Middle-distance runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu cuts season short due to injury
2019 Canadian silver medallist's campaign hampered by small Achilles tear, minor hamstring issue
Middle-distance runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu, who placed second in the 800 metres at the Canadian track and field championships in July, has announced on Instagram she is ending her season early.
The 31-year-old of Eganville, Ont., who sat out the 2018 campaign to give birth to daughter Corinne, noted the changing structure of her body upon her return to competitive running led to several injuries, including a hamstring ailment and most recently a small Achilles tear.
"My fitness is there, but the body structure changes and makes it increasingly difficult to stay in one piece," wrote Bishop, a 2015 world silver medallist who finished fourth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
"Don't lose faith yet, I haven't. Patience will be my biggest test."
In her most recent 800 race on Aug. 10, Bishop-Nriagu posted a winning time of 2:01.50 at the Ed Murphey Classic in Memphis, Tenn. She set the Canadian record of 1:57.01 in 2017.
Bishop-Nriagu opened her 2019 season on May 18 in the 1,500, setting a personal-best time of 4:09.36 in at the Johnny Loaring Classic at the University of Windsor Stadium.
Bishop-Nriagu was pleasantly surprised how quickly she recovered from pregnancy, though she had to work to keep weight on after Corinne was born.
Bishop-Nriagu will now focus on recovery and returning to good health in a bid to clinch a spot on Canada's Olympic team for Tokyo next summer. Bishop-Nriagu has until next June 29 to reach the 1:59.50 qualifying standard in the 800.
Struggles in 1st year post-pregnancy
"It's very upsetting Melissa had to cut her season short," fellow Canadian runner Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, who has set a combined five national indoor/outdoor records this season, told CBC Sports. "No runner wants to finish their season that way.
DeBues-Stafford recalled the struggles of two-time Olympian Hilary Stellingwerff of Victoria, who struggled to regain her form in the 1,500 after giving birth to son Theo in 2014.
She had to end her 2015 season early with a stress fracture in her left fibula, or calf bone, but rebounded in June 2016 to hit the Athletics Canada qualifying standard for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where Stellingwerff placed 31st.
Her husband Trent, a sports physiologist, recently took to Twitter to reveal some data he had collected on the performance of elite female runners following pregnancy.
Much recent discussions on elite female runners, pregnancy & performance. Data I've collected in 10 elites. 1 year of maternity leave is mythical, as (on avg w/ large error bars) significant injuries & decreased performance. Year 2 = completely different story & worth investment! <a href="https://t.co/08ErDgirnc">pic.twitter.com/08ErDgirnc</a>—@TStellingwerff
Bishop-Nriagu said she is ready to run fast again and reaching the podium in Tokyo is the goal.
"Fourth is something you never want to be in again, ever. It feels like a pain in your side that won't go away," she told Anson Henry of CBC Sports in August 2017.
"I don't have [an Olympic] medal. That's like the biggest box [unchecked] on my list of things to do in life."
WATCH | Melissa Bishop-Nriagu reflects on Olympic experience in Rio: