Michelle Stilwell trains at Rotary Bowl Stadium earlier this week. She is heading to Rio de Janeiro to compete in her fourth Paralympic Games. Stilwell will race the 100-metre and 400m events.

Michelle Stilwell trains at Rotary Bowl Stadium earlier this week. She is heading to Rio de Janeiro to compete in her fourth Paralympic Games. Stilwell will race the 100-metre and 400m events.

Veteran Paralympian Michelle Stilwell values opportunity

Michelle Stilwell leaves this week for Rio de Janeiro, where she’ll compete in the 100-metre and 400m races at the Paralympic Games.

She’s been representing her consituents and this month, she’ll be representing all Canadians.

Michelle Stilwell leaves this week for Rio de Janeiro, where she’ll compete in the 100-metre and 400m wheelchair races at the Paralympic Games.

She’s feeling fit and fast.

“I’m feeling like I’m right on track to be able to show up and have the best performance there that I possibly can,” she said.

Stilwell has been to three other Paralympics and has four gold medals and one silver, but these will be her first Games since being elected MLA for Parksville-Qualicum and becoming B.C.’s Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation.

Her political career has had an impact on her athletic pursuits, she said. She feels a little disconnected because she hasn’t been to international competitions or athlete training camps. Instead, she trains alone, early in the morning or late at night, at her fully equipped home gym with its set of rollers.

“Many Paralympians have full-time jobs or full-time schooling where they’re balancing both those worlds, and it’s just the same for me…” Stilwell said. “You’re always striving for excellence and being a world-class athlete is about putting the training in, the hours and hours that are put in prior to going to the Games.”

Stilwell, 42, won her first gold medal in wheelchair basketball in 2000 in Sydney, but gave up that sport due to health concerns. She won gold medals in the 100m and 200m wheelchair sprints in 2008 in Beijing, then earned gold in the 200m and silver in the 100m in 2012 in London.

“Every Games has been a bit of a learning experience. You take away things that you can do better and how you can improve and what you can do differently. I’ve taken those things into my preparation for these Games,” Stilwell said. “I feel relaxed going into these Games and comfortable and confident that I know what to expect.”

There will be some newcomers in some of the adjacent lanes in Rio, but Stilwell expects her main competitors to be familiar ones. She’s thought a lot about her 100m final in London, when she wasn’t 100 per cent focused when the starter’s pistol sounded, slipped on her first push, and spent the rest of the race trying to catch up.

“It’s those moments that you learn from, that you take into improving so that you can be better,” she said. “I’ve spent the last four years trying to figure out ways to prepare myself the best I can so that I can reach the top of the podium in Rio.”

She wants to win gold medals. She has those expectations for herself, she wants to win for the people who want to see her succeed and she wants to do the best she can representing Canada.

“That’s a lot of pressure going in,” she said. “How do you mentally block those thoughts out so that you can focus at the precise moment when the gun goes off, to perform for the less than 20 seconds it takes to finish the 100 metres?”

She looks forward to finding out. Always, the excitement is there, Stilwell said. She considers it an incredible opportunity to be part of Team Canada at the Paralympic Games among 4,000 other athletes from 175 other countries and she embraces the best of the Paralympic values.

“It has that opportunity to empower, especially those with disabilities…” she said. “You think of countries where they come from, poorer nations where opportunities aren’t as great and [now they get] that opportunity to do amazing things.

“Sport has that power to transform, to inspire and to really unite individuals and countries.”

GAME ON … The 400-metre T52 wheelchair race final will be Sept. 10 at 7 a.m. Pacific Time. The 100-metre T52 final is Sept. 17 at 7:05 a.m.


Just Posted

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read