By Ottawa Sports Pages, For Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club
The tradition continues. Several Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club athletes will again be wearing Team Canada singlets at this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, keeping alive a longstanding streak.
The latest crew of Lions Olympians are Melissa Bishop-Nriagu (women’s 800 metres), Tim Nedow (men’s shot put) and Lauren Gale (women’s 4×400 m relay).
This will be the third Olympics for 32-year-old Bishop-Nriagu, who placed 28th at London 2012 and came within one spot of the podium with a 4th at Rio 2016.
It will be Olympics #2 for 30-year-old Nedow, who was 16th in Rio and later placed 9th at the 2019 World Championships in the strongest competition in the history of the event.
It will be the Olympic debut for 21-year-old Lauren Gale, who is the youngest member of the Canadian track and field team.
“I am unbelievably excited,” Gale says. “It is so awesome to get to represent Canada on the biggest stage and run against my idols.”
Gale will team up with another Lions product in the women’s 4×400 m relay in Alicia Brown, who grew up in Ottawa before moving to Toronto for university.
The Canadian Olympic team also includes another Lions alum, Mike Woods, who was a Pan American junior champion in the 1,500 m before ultimately becoming Canada’s top road cyclist.
Come the start of the Paralympics in late August, the local Tokyo Games athletics contingent should swell further still, with half-a-dozen Lions in contention for Team Canada selection.
And watching over it all of course will be Team Canada head coach and Atlanta 1996 gold medallist Glenroy Gilbert, who also has Lions 60 m hurdles club record holder Charles Allen on his staff.
“The Lions played a huge role in helping me develop as an athlete, and then as a coach too,” signals Gilbert, who was coaching with the Lions when he accepted Athletics Canada’s head coach position in 2017. “I’m eternally grateful and indebted to them.”
Gilbert’s Olympic debut as a long jumper at Seoul 1988 marked the start of the Lions’ streak of having representatives at every Olympics since then – it will be nine and counting once athletics kicks off on July 30 (July 29 in Ottawa). The Lions own a similar record of Paralympic appearances, with eight in a row since 1992.
“Throughout the years, they’ve always been there,” notes Gilbert, a 1994 Winter Olympic bobsledder. “They’ve always been a strong club, and a big club with lots of members and lots of coaches, and they always put athletes on Canadian teams from the development stage all the way up to the national team.
“It’s been that way since I was there, so it’s obviously very positive to see that continue.”