Sticks by her coach
Canadian runner Melissa Bishop hasn’t left ailing coach’s side
When Melissa Bishop races the 800 metres at the world track and field championships, every strong, rhythmic step of her run will be set to the roaring soundtrack of 60,000-strong at London Olympic Stadium.
But the voice in her head will be Dennis Fairall’s.
Her ailing track coach will watch the drama unfold in his home office back in Windsor, Ont., his wife Janet standing protectively behind him.
Together, they’ll scream at the computer until they’re hoarse.
Despite being separated by five time zones, the coach lovingly known as “Big Dawg” and the finest 800-metre runner Canada has ever produced will be in sync.
Fairall is battling progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare degenerative brain disease that has no cure and is slowly stealing his mobility and speech.
The world championship is the first major international meet the two have been apart, a long-distance relationship necessitated by Fairall’s failing health, but a partnership that they make work.
Bishop, who’s the reigning world silver medallist, is running faster than ever, recording a time of one minute 57.01 seconds two weeks ago in Monaco to eclipse her own Canadian record.
“People have some opinions about it, but this is him and I. This is our journey. This is Dennis and me,” Bishop said.