Several athletes with local ties are officially securing the Olympics as Athletics Canada appoints the athletics team

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Jim Parker Windsor star Former University of Windsor Lancer teammates Melissa Bishop-Nriagu, left, and Noelle Montcalm, return to the Olympics.Former University of Windsor Lancer teammates Melissa Bishop-Nriagu, left, and Noelle Montcalm, return to the Olympics. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor star

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Athletics Canada released its list of 57 athletes who will compete in athletics on Saturday, and Windsor and Essex Counties are well represented.

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Melissa Bishop-Nriagu, Brandon McBride, Noelle Montcalm and Dayna Pidhoresky were officially named to the squad along with former University of Windsor lancer Sarah Mitton, while Kurt Downes was named to the coaching staff.

“I hope people here understand how good our city is for producing talented athletes,” Downes said.

This will be the third Olympics for 32-year-old Bishop-Nriagu, who now lives in Belle River. The Canadian women’s 800m record holder had already met the qualifying standard and cleared any doubts when the former Lancer star won a silver medal at the national championships last month.

“Wooh-hoo,” said Bishop-Nriagu when the team was announced. “Enthusiastic. This is my third game. I can’t wait to represent my country and community. Time to shine.”

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The path to a place was not so smooth for former Lancer teammate Montcalm. It did not meet Athletics Canada’s standard for the women’s 400 meter hurdles. However, the five-time national champion delivered one of the top 40 performances in the world this year and Saturday’s announcement was long-awaited news for Montcalm, who will be traveling to her second Olympics.

“It has been difficult to wait for the past few days,” said Montcalm, a St. Joseph High School product. “In 2016 I did Standard, so it was pretty clear. This time you just have to wait until the rest of the world changes in the ranking. “

Montcalm, 33, who will also compete in the women’s 4 × 400 meter relay, credits her return from the US to run at home to secure a spot.
“My last five races since I was back in Canada have really secured this place for me,” said Montcalm. “Right now it’s a little bit of everything. The weight is falling off my shoulders and I’ve been holding my breath for the past few days. “

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While Montcalm has jumped at meetings to qualify, McBride received the news shortly before he left for Budapest on Saturday. He will be racing for the first time in over a year on Tuesday as he recovers from his injuries.

Canadian men’s 800m record holder McBride had previously reached the time standard that would qualify for his second Olympic Games.

“It’s always a great feeling to be officially named,” said 27-year-old McBride, a Herman High School product. “It is a great honor to be included in our Olympic team. I look forward to representing our country to the best of my ability. “

The former Lancer Pidhoresky from Tecumseh qualified for the Olympic Games at the Canadian Marathon Championships in October 2019. Her nomination was official 14 months ago, but the Maranatha Christian Academy graduate was still thrilled to see her name on Saturday, a reminder of how close she is to attending her first Olympics.

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“It feels like it’s getting real,” said 34-year-old Pidhoresky. “Now it’s getting serious.”

Another former launcher, 25-year-old Mitton, has achieved Olympic standards multiple times in women’s shot put and will be competing in her first Olympic Games.

“I still don’t think it’s completely submerged, but I’ve had this target in my sights for years,” said Mitton. “To finally make it real is something very special. I can officially say that I made it. I am an Olympian. “

Another former lancer and current coach on the team, Downes trained for Canada at several international meetings before taking one of 10 coaching spots on this year’s Canadian Olympic squad.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Downes. “As a coach, it’s pretty cool to be with a team like this and represent the Windsor region. I’m thankfull.”

jpparker@postmedia.com

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