Michelle Stilwell, the seven-time Paralympic medalist and world record-holder who serves as MLA for Parksville-Qualicum, was selected Wednesday for induction into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
Stilwell is part of a 2017 induction class of 11 athletes and one team. The 51st induction class will be formally inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame April 12, 2017, at the annual Banquet of Champions at the Vancouver Convention Centre West.
“This is one of the greatest honours of my sporting career,” Stilwell said of her selection. “I have had the privilege to represent Canada at multiple international competitions, always striving for excellence, and always pushing myself further than I thought I could. But it hasn’t been without the love and support of my family, coach, friends and Canadians alike that have all been a part of my success.”
Among the inductees are Stilwell’s former wheelchair basketball coach, Tim Frick, who was selected in the Builder/Coach category. Frick, who now lives in Parksville, was born in the U.K. and raised in Port Alberni.
Stilwell, currently the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation for the B.C. Liberal government, won the first of her six Paralympic gold medals in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, with the Frick-coached Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team.
After taking time to start her family, Stilwell made the switch to wheelchair racing on the track. She returned to the Paralympic Games in 2008 in Beijing, where she swept gold medals in the T52 100-metre and 200-metre dashes.
Stilwell won gold again in London in the 200, but suffered her only Paralympics loss in the 100, taking silver in a close finish. She once again represented Canada this year at the Rio Games, where she regained her 100-metre crown in Paralympic record time and added her first gold at 400 metres.
Having won gold in both wheelchair basketball and athletics, Stilwell is the only female Paralympian to have won gold in two separate summer sports. She is the current world record-holder in the both the T52 100 metres (18.67 seconds, set in 2012) and the T52 200 metres (33.19 seconds, set in 2013).
In addition to her Paralympic medals, Stilwell is a multiple world champion, having won golds at the 2006 championships in Assen, Netherlands and the 2011 championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.
In her one major championship competition on Canadian soil, Stilwell won gold in the T52 100 metres at the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto.
“Sport has taught me that I can overcome any obstacle in my life,” said Stilwell. “Sport has helped shape the person I am today. All Canadians deserve the opportunity to be healthy, active and participate in sport because it can truly be life-changing.”
Frick coached the Canadian women’s national wheelchair basketball team to seven consecutive gold medals at the world championships or Paralympics from 1992-2002, one of the most dominant runs of any team in any international sport.
He was named the International Wheelchair Sports Coach of the Year in 2000, the year he guided Stilwell’s team to the Paralympic gold in Sydney.