By P&G CanadaJun 25, 2021
Canadian 800m Olympic runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu with daughter Corinne.
For many elite athletes, greatness is measured by victories in their sport: medals, world records and first-place finishes. But Canadian 800m-runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu has learned that being great on the world stage is a product of off-the-track goodness and positivity. “Those two words help bring me back to where I am and what I do,” she says. “Being positive and thinking about how much goodness I have in my life outside of my career helps me be the best athlete.”
A veteran of both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, 32-year-old Bishop-Nriagu is hopeful to once again lace up for Canada at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The wife and mother (to two-year-old Corrine) has dealt with challenges in her competitive career in the past, including narrowly missing out on a podium finish in Rio, and feels those experiences have empowered her with valuable insights and resilience, which she hopes can motivate others.
“In the past four years I’ve gone through many ups and downs,” she explains. “I navigated the path—bumps and all—and found a balance and perspective along the way that only lived experience, along with the right support team of friends and family, can provide. Knowing others out there—especially moms and moms-to-be—are trying to balance work and life and dealing with the unknown, I’m focused on sharing my experience and learning to help encourage and inspire [them]. It’s not always an easy journey, and we all need to help each other.”
Bishop-Nriagu credits her support team with helping her navigate her racing journey—through periods of both smooth sailing and rough waters. “My family has always been in support of my career on and off the track. They’ve seen me at my lowest and at my highest,” she says. “I call home every day, sometimes twice a day. Not to talk about track, but to see what’s going on for the day. It helps to ground me. When times are tough, my family is there with open arms, an ear to listen, and support to build me back up.”
Two family members, in particular, have helped shape the woman Bishop-Nriagu has become. “My mom and grandma are pillars in my life,” she says. “They set incredible examples very early on in my life. They share a very tight bond. As the third generation, I, too, have this special bond with each of them. Now that I’m a mom, raising the fourth generation, I want to be able to instill in Corinne what they taught me: work ethic, kindness, how to love and forgive.”
That kind of pay-it-forward approach to spreading goodness to those around them is the subject of P&G Canada’s short film Your Goodness is Your Greatness, which Bishop-Nriagu feels crystallizes its titular message. “That’s what [it] gets at—how important family members are in teaching us values to bring out our goodness.”
To that end, and in addition to going for gold on the track, Bishop-Nriagu has set her sights on being a positive role model for her daughter. “My wish is that she sees powerful, motivated women going against the grain and not doing what society has told us to do,” she says. “Women can have careers, and be pregnant, and return to that career while balancing a family.”
And, like her mother and grandmother before her, Bishop-Nriagu wants to pass along the family’s values, teaching Corrine the benefits of love and support when it comes to being a force for goodness—in sport and in life. “My husband and I together have a built a strong support foundation through families and friends, we lean on them constantly,” Bishop-Nriagu says. “I wouldn’t have the success I have had without their help. I hope Corinne [will] also see the value of that and the importance of that.”
That approach is something to which Geraldine Huse, president of Procter & Gamble Canada, can relate. A parent to grown children herself, Huse has always made family a top priority. “I am most proud of my children when they are not only excelling in their vocation, but also when they contribute to society in a positive way,” she says. It’s part of the reason she’s excited about the Your Goodness is Your Greatness film which is part of P&G’s #LeadWithLove campaign. “We hope that parents will share our message with their children so we can inspire them to lead with love.”