With the rush of a successful Olympic Trials still ringing in her ears and The Games in Rio still a month away, the Track Town Classic wouldn’t seem like an easy meet for Melissa Bishop, or anyone in her spikes, to get up for.
It’s like an exhibition game between clinching a playoff spot and the start of the Stanley Cup final.
Fortunately for the crowd at Foote Field Friday night, Bishop is a pretty good self-motivator.
On a night when everyone in the place showed up hoping to see something special from someone, she delivered, posting a new Canadian record in the women’s 800 metres.
“I really had to work hard to turn my mental game around because Trials was so exciting, it was such a huge goal on my sheet to make the Olympic team,” said Bishop, whose time of 1:57.43 beat her own record of a year ago 1:57.52.
“So it was the mental prep that we did, and the conditions were perfect tonight.”
The 800 is an easy event to bail out of, especially when there really isn’t a whole lot on the line. Just shift it into neutral and coast down the stretch instead of battling through the burning legs and lungs. But as far as Bishop is concerned, cruise control is not an option in anything that includes a starting gun and a finish line.
“I’m realizing as I get older that these opportunities are never going to happen again and I need to take advantage of every single one that I have,” said the 27-year-old. “It would been easy to bail out, but I would have been so disappointed with myself and all the fans who came out to watch would have been so disappointed. I’m really happy I went for it.”
Needless to say, the 2015 Word Championship silver medallist is pretty thrilled to be setting a personal best a month before the Olympics.
“It’s a test to where we are right now,” she said. “We still have a few weeks to do some more prep work so that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
The biggest name in the field, Canadian 100 champion Andre De Grasse, won his only event of the Track Town Classic, posting a 20:20 in the 200 metres.
He admits feeling a bit of a post-Trials hangover, too, after qualifying for Rio in both events.
“I was pretty exhausted,” he said. “I had to tell myself mentally to come back here and perform well and take care of my body throughout the whole week. The two days after the trials I just laid in bed, I was pretty tired.
“I took it easy in practice the last two days. The coaches told me to just go out there and execute your race, work on your technique, loosen up, relax, don’t try to force it and if you don’t feel it (don’t push it). That’s exactly what I did.”
Even though it’s a new meet record, De Grasse is not entirely thrilled with 20:20, not when he was hoping to break 20 seconds here. But he still believes there is time to get things fixed before Rio.
“I still have a little bit of work to do, I was hoping for a lower time than 20:20,” he said. “But overall I’m happy with my performance. I got the win, worked on my technique and now it’s just prepping up and getting ready for Rio. I have one more 100 left before Rio and then it’s time to go at it.”
FAST TRACK – There were four meet records set, with American Johnny Dutch posting 49.02 in the 400 metre hurdles and Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas setting a new standard in the womens 200 metres (22.36).
It was a wild night on a lot of fronts Friday, including the storm front. A wicked rainstorm moved in the final moments of the meet, forcing a lightning evacuation and emptying the stands before the marquee races of the competition, the mens and women’s 100 metres.
Follow me on twitter.com/sun_tychkowski