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.
Canadian wheelchair racer Michelle Stilwell claimed her second gold medal at the Rio Paralympics on Saturday, winning the women's 100-metre event.
The 42-year-old from Parksville, B.C., beat American Kelly Morgan and Belgium's Marieke Vervoort to take top spot in 19.42 seconds, which is a new Paralympic record.
Stilwell, who also holds the world record in the 100, now has six career Paralympic gold medals. She won her first race of the Games a week ago in the 400.
Stilwell is only the second female Paralympian to have won gold in two separate summer sports, having been part of Canada's gold-medal winning wheelchair basketball team in Sydney. Complications to her spinal cord injury forced her to switch to track after the Games in 2000.
Stilwell isn't sure what her immediate racing future holds, but she's learned to approach every race like it's her last.
"I do that every time, because you never know," Stilwell said. "And I think that's really what it's about for everyone. No matter if you're Paralympian or able-bodied, you can have a life-changing injury.
"In an instant your life changes. And so I think I try and enjoy every moment. And have fun."
At the age of 17 Michelle was rendered quadriplegic after falling from a friends back while piggyback riding. Prior to her injury Michelle was involved in many sports. She excelled at track, basketball and ringette. Her injury has not put a stop to her enjoyment of these sports, just a few alterations.
The idea of practicing sports in a wheelchair first occurred in England during the Second World War as a means of contributing to the physical and psychological rehabilitation of the many people wounded during the war.
The Paralympics were launched in 1948 when Sir Ludwig Guttman organized the International Wheelchair Games to coincide with the Olympic Games taking place in London. The name derives from the Greek "para" ("beside" or "alongside") and thus refers to a competition held in parallel with the Olympic Games. There is no relation with paralysis or paraplegia intended, however, the word Paralympic was originally a portmanteau combining 'paraplegic' and 'Olympic'.