Michelle Stilwell will be shifting her focus from the political arena to the track this summer as she aims for a spot on Canada’s Pan Am Games team.
Stilwell, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum and the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, confirmed this week she intends to be racing in the 100M and 400M events of the Parapan Am Games in Toronto in August.
Stilwell, 40, told The NEWS she still needs to complete the qualifying criteria to be named to the team and she said she will compete at the national championships in Edmonton July 2-5. The Canadian PanAm and Parapan Am teams will be announced after the national championships.
“If all goes well and my fitness is where it needs to be I will represent Canada on home soil,” said Stilwell.
The Parksville-based wheelchair athlete won two gold medals at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing in the 200M and 100M events. She defended her 200M gold at the 2012 London Paralympic Games and took silver in the 100M. She also earned a gold medal as a member of the Canadian team that won it all in wheelchair basketball at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney.
Stilwell currently holds the world record in the 100M, 200M and 800M distances in the T52 class. Athletes in class T52 have activity limitations in both lower and upper limbs.
Stilwell said she will race in a 10K event this weekend in Victoria. She said she has 60 people on her team competing in the race, a group she calls the Parliamentary Pacers. Before being elevated to cabinet in February, Stilwell was the Parliamentary Secretary for Healthy Living and Seniors.
“I still have been supporting members to be healthy and active with my walk and run group Monday and Wednesday mornings,” she said. “We meet in front of the Legislature at 6:30 a.m.”
If she is named to the Canadian team, Stilwell will race in Toronto on August 10 (100M) and August 11 (400M).