The small town of Eganville, Ont. is rallying behind Melissa Bishop ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics. The town of approximately 1,200 residents has been taking part in a community challenge to show off support of Canada’s fastest 800m runner of all time.
Bishop, a world championship silver medallist and Pan Am Games champion, is ranked third entering the Olympics in the women’s 800m. She was born in Eganville and trained with the Ottawa Lions before moving to Windsor, Ont. for university. She continues to reside in Windsor and trains under longtime coach Dennis Fairall.
The Canadian record holder in the women’s 800m turned 28 on Aug. 5 and arrived to Rio on Saturday, a day after the opening ceremony. Back in her hometown, front lawns, businesses and windows have been given an Olympic makeover as Bishop signs decorate many of the town’s landmarks.
Community members have also been spotted wearing “Melissa Bishop” red and white t-shirts to express their support for Eganville’s most popular runner. Eganville is located approximately 90 minutes west of Ottawa. There is also a park just outside of the eastern Ontario town named after the 800m runner.
— Emily Bishop (@ebish17) July 30, 2016
Resident of Eganville and the surrounding areas have been submitting photos to the “Team Melissa Bishop” Facebook page where updates are posted. More than 800 fans, according to the Daily Observer, packed the local high school for a viewing party when Bishop competed at the 2012 Olympics. She finished sixth in her heats in 2012 and did not advance out of the first of three rounds.
This time around, she is one of Canada’s best shots at a medal in track and field. She will be in tough, however, as the 800m is expected to be a stacked event in Rio.
Eganville will be holding a viewing party at the town’s public school for the opening round of the women’s 800m on Aug. 17. There are three rounds in the two-lap distance including heats, semifinals and finals. The final is Aug. 20 where Bishop will vie for her first Olympic medal.