Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bishop Finishes Fifth in Women's 800, Canada Leaves Worlds Empty-Handed

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bishop Finishes Fifth in Women's 800, Canada Leaves Worlds Empty-Handed

Article excerpt

Canada leaves world track empty-handed


LONDON - On a dreamy night two years ago at Birds Nest Stadium in Beijing, Melissa Bishop raced to a silver medal in the 800 metres -- and it was just one of an extraordinary three medals for Canada on that day.

Damian Warner had won decathlon silver, and Canada's 4x100 relay, anchored by emerging star Andre De Grasse, sprinted to bronze.

Two years after Canada's historic eight-medal bonanza in Beijing, the team heads home from London empty-handed for the first time in 16 years. The meet will be remembered for injuries and illness. Pictures of joyous Canadians draped in the Maple Leaf were replaced by images of dejection and frustration.

Bishop was the last Canadian up Sunday night, racing to fifth in the 800 metres.

"I'm going to be honest, it's been tough to see just the unfortunate timing of things," Bishop said. "The (2015) worlds and Rio (Olympics) were so high, and to come off of that, I think it's hard for everybody. I really wanted to put Canada on the map with a medal tonight, but it's just not in the cards."

The 29-year-old from Eganville, Ont., ran one minute 57.68 seconds, and afterward lamented the fact she'd let herself get too far back in the pack when the leaders made their move with 300 metres to go.

"I don't think I ran my race," Bishop said. "It's coming, it's positive, it's nothing I'm upset about, the result is more what I'm upset about. I'm tired of 1:57s, I want something faster.

"I think if I was closer to the front of that pack, I'm positive we could have run 1:56 (her Canadian record is 1:57.01). We're right on the cusp."

Bishop's race was one of the most talked-about of the meet. Caster Semenya of South Africa, who won gold in 1:55.16, is at the centre of a dispute over whether females with excessive testosterone should be permitted to compete. Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi was second and American Ajee Wilson took the bronze.

Canada followed up Beijing with a six-medal performance in Rio, and the team arrived in London seemingly riding a giant wave of momentum.

Then De Grasse, who was pegged to win three medals in London, announced he was out with a torn hamstring two nights before the London world championships began. It was both a massive blow and the first of Canada's collapsing house of cards to fall.

Olympic and world champion high jumper Derek Drouin pulled out with an Achilles injury, and a ferocious stomach bug -- believed to be norovirus -- swept through the Canadian team hotel, forcing nine Canadian athletes and staff into quarantine, including Warner.

"It is hard. We came here for medals," said the team's head coach Glenroy Gilbert. "We certainly didn't forsee the things that have happened."

Warner began the decathlon -- a gruelling event at the best of times -- just a day after his quarantine ended, and finished a heartbreaking fifth, the first time he'd missed a major international podium in five years. …

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