Hometown Pride For Valley Track & Field Stars

MaddyMelissaJuly31

There's plenty of hometown pride this week for some Ottawa Valley track and field athletes who achieved big wins at the national level.

Pembroke's Fellowes High School graduate Madeleine Kelly took first place in the 800-meter national event Saturday night in Montreal, while Eganville's Melissa Bishop-Nriagu took second.

Bishop-Nriagu is no stranger to success, having competed in the Olympics and finshing fourth, and medalling at world championships.

But it was Kelly's first national championship, and her former running club coach Rick Schroeder from the Courers De Bois Running Club in Petawawa, says it was a thrill to watch.

"Maddy's always kind of felt like the bridesmaid and never the bride", Schroeder said.

"To see the look on her face after the race, and how excited she was to actually be number one, was very exciting to see.  I'm very happy for her", her added.

Schroeder says Bishop-Nriagu, Kelly and others are true role models for the young athletes who work so hard with passion and perseverance.

"Watching these kids grow up, coming out as Grade 8 runners every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday during the summer, and working very hard ... seeing the culmination of their work over 10 years at a national championship is very, very exciting", Schroeder added.

Those weren't the only local victories at the national level.

Austin Graham of Petawawa won two more gold medals in a visually impaired category and will represent Canada at the Pan Am Para Games August 24th in Peru.

Mac Douglas came 4th in the U20 javelin breaking his personal best with a throw of 59.24 m.

Schroeder says it's truly rewarding to everyone who's been involved in their development at the local level.

"To have something like this happen, it justifies it for the kids, saying: look what they did.  I can do that too.  I think it's very exciting for these young athletes coming through the systems".