Michelle Stilwell, one of Canada’s most decorated athletes, announced her retirement today.
Stilwell, a T52 classification wheelchair racer, won gold medals at the 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games. She is the only Canadian female to be a Paralympic champion in two separate summer sports (basketball and athletics). Born in Winnipeg, Man., Stilwell is going out on top. At the 2016 Paralympic Games, she won gold in the 100 and 400-metres and retires as current World Record holder in the 100 and 200-metres.
“Today, my heart is heavy, as I am officially announcing my retirement from Paralympic competition,” said Stilwell in a post on her Facebook page. “Healthy active living will continue to be a part of my daily routine and I have no doubt that I will forever be connected and involved in the world of sport – a world that has given me decades of friendships, opportunity, growth, challenges, community, sportsmanship and inspiration. It has been my honour to proudly wear the maple leaf multiple times.”
Stilwell’s championship pedigree began at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney as a member of the gold medal winning wheelchair basketball team. In 2004 she took up wheelchair racing under coach Peter Lawless. Peter and Michelle would work together for 13 years, amassing 6 Paralympic Games medals, 9 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championship medals and multiple World Records.
“Michelle has been an inspiration to Canadians on and off the track, and an outstanding contributor to our program,” said Rob Guy, Chief Executive Officer, Athletics Canada. “Athletics Canada has been lucky to have an athlete of her character and talent for so many years. We wish her the very best as her promising political career continues to unfold.”
In 2012, Michelle was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and presented with the first key to the City of Parksville, B.C. On April 12, 2017, Stilwell will be formally inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
“It’s been such a privilege and pleasure to work with Michelle for these many years. The numerous successes have been made all the sweeter by some of the challenges she’s had to overcome. She is an extraordinary athlete; her legacy will be felt for many years. I wish her the very best in the adventures ahead,” Peter Lawless, Michelle’s longtime coach.
In May 2013 Michelle was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Parksville-Qualicum in British-Columbia. In 2015 Stilwell was named minister of social development and social innovation.