Three-time Canadian Paralympic gold medalist Michelle Stilwell of Parksville is
back in the record books. On Sunday, the 37-year-old wheelchair racer smashed
the world record in the T52 400-metre event at the Summer Down Under 2012
International Track and Road Racing Series in Canberra. Earlier in the day,
Stilwell raced the 100m event in a time of 20.97, a race she holds the world
record in in a time of 19.52. But it was the 400m event she was most focused on
and leading up to the race, "I truly felt like good things were going to
happen," said Stilwell.
But positive energy drained from her body almost as fast as the air in one of her tires as she position herself at the start line. Races are rarely held up due to mechanical failures, but as the other athletes stalled, Stilwell wheeled to her race crew and they fixed her up faster than a NASCAR pit crew.
Back on the start line, adrenaline pumped through Stilwell's body as she dug in deep and raced to a 1:06.57 finish, breaking the world record by more than two seconds. "Words can not describe the elation I felt," said Stilwell. "Here I thought I was in an individual sport but turns out I am in a team sport. Not just my Canadian staff but my fellow competitors as well who went out of their way to make it possible for me to race tonight."