Michelle Stilwell: Everyone Has a Story

Canadian wheelchair racer Michelle Stilwell insists the journey to the Paralympics is just as important as the Games themselves. 09 Jul 2012
Michelle Stilwell

Canada's Michelle Stilwell will be one to watch at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

By Michelle Stilwell

I think too many times we forget that people deserve credit for trying, as not trying is a lot easier.

Last week was a critical week, a week that would solidify the Canadian Athletics team for London 2012. For many athletes, it meant last chance efforts to achieve elite standards and punch their tickets to the Paralympic Games.

Every athlete at trials in Calgary, Alberta had one thing on his or her mind: going to London.

Nearly four years have passed since the Beijing Games and my double gold medals and Paralympic records. It’s been an incredible four years of training harder, pushing stronger and striving to be the best in the world. The dates are set and the excitement continues to build. On the 1st and 5th of September 2012 we shall see if the hard work will pay off.

The road to the Paralympic Games and the podium is a hard one, no matter the sport one comes from. It is a journey that is fueled by the passion we as athletes have in order to continually pursue excellence, no matter what our abilities. We must have a fire burning from within that is fueled almost naturally with our desire to achieve excellence in our chosen sport.

In Paralympic sport, the depth of field often is not what you would expect to see.

In my events in London there will be only straight finals – no heats or semi-finals.

One shot. One attempt at deciding who the Paralympic champion is.

I have been training for 100s of hours to lay it all on the line for less than one minute of physical exertion in London (both events combined).

I think too many times we forget that people deserve credit for trying, as not trying is a lot easier.

It is so easy to point out the flaws and be the critic. To look at what could have been done differently or better.

We often forget that with every amazing performance, there were multiple disappointing attempts. Remembering that those individuals continuously picked themselves up, tried again and again to gain their success. There is a quote somewhere about it being impossible to know success without having known failure and learning just how to get back up!

This is what we need to remember.

Over the years I have come to realize that success IS possible in any endeavor I choose, so long as I learn from my mistakes and persevere.

This is a lesson for everyone.

With the Paralympic Games set to take place in 51 days, as we prepare to celebrate the victories of athletes from around the world in the coming months, let’s not forget that everyone has a story as to how they got there!

For those who fall short of their goal, behind every shortcoming is the possibility for something greater in the future.

There will be other opportunities that will present themselves and are yours for the taking.

For now, be proud of yourself for being brave enough to try.

Enjoy the experience of representing your country, grinding it out, fighting like your life depends on it, and feeling so exhausted when it is all over, because you know you could not have possibly done any more!

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