Michelle Stilwell is one of Canada’s most successful athletes in both her sport and post competitive careers.
In sports, Stilwell competed at four Paralympic Games between 2000 and 2016 (she missed 2004). In 2000, she helped Canada win the gold medal in women’s wheelchair basketball. But it is wheelchair racing she is best remembered for.
Stilwell collected five gold medals and one silver on the track, including victories in the 100m and 200m in 2008 alongside the 100m and 400m in 2016 in the women’s T53 category.
Even before she retired from high performance sport, Stilwell was already immersed in her new career as a politician. She was elected Member of the Legislative Assembly for British Columbia for Parksville-Qualicum on May 14, 2013, a role she held until 2020.
Below she looks back on some of her favourite memories from competing for Canada:
What did it mean to you to be able to represent Canada at the Paralympic Games?
It was a complete honour. To put years of hard work and training into the relentless pursuit of excellence and have it all come together on race day is truly magnificent.
What are some of your favourite memories from competing for Canada?
Always my favourite is the playing of our national anthem and seeing our flag rise.
What is your proudest sporting achievement from your career?
Two separate highlights – one is playing alongside 11 other incredible women working towards a common goal [in wheelchair basketball], the other is standing on the podium having achieved a goal I set to become a Paralympic champion in athletics and to have the flag rise and the anthem play for me.
What are you up to now?
After almost eight years in provincial politics as an MLA and Cabinet Minister I am taking some time to do the things that I enjoy and are fun! Coaching, acting, and sitting on various boards and committees to give back.
What message would you share with current athletes on the road to the Paralympic Games?
You have to put the training in. You have planned and prepared as best you can so now give it your all and enjoy the moment.
Current TV show you are binge-watching: Yellowstone
Favourite activity: Swimming
Celebrity you’d like to meet: Ryan Reynolds – I am always up for a good laugh
Favourite Emoji: Happy face
Favourite Hobby: Crocheting
Favourite Motto: The only difference between possible and impossible is a person’s attitude
Simon Richard – Goalball
Kirstie Kasko – Para Swimming
Paul Clark – Para Athletics
Tim McIsaac - Para Swimming
Sarah Mailhot - Para Swimming
Patrice Bonneau - Para Cycling
Michelle Salt - Para Snowboard
Karolina Wisniewska - Para Alpine Skiing
Andrew Haley - Para Swimming
Amy Alsop - Goalball
Chris Stoddart - Para Athletics