Canadian gold medallist Stilwell juggles campaign

Heading into the IPC Athletics World Championships, Canada’s Michelle Stilwell is also running for office in the British Columbia. 09 Apr 2013
A picture of a woman showing her gold medal

Canada's Michelle Stilwell won the gold medal during the women's 200m - T52 final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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By Ros Dumlao l For the IPC

“It takes a ton of time management and a solid plan to juggle all of the tasks. I am very fortunate to have a supportive husband and friends and family that make it possible.”

At 15 years old, Michelle Stilwell was already working on her first election campaign.

The mother of a friend was running for provincial election in Canada, and Stilwell would hand out brochures, stuff envelopes and set up events.

“Giving time and energy to my community and advocating for people has been an ongoing focus in my life,” Stilwell said. “Since then, I have been actively involved on a variety of levels.”

Coming off the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Stilwell finds her hands even more full.

Earlier this year, the two-time 200m T52 Paralympic champion put her name down as a candidate for office in British Columbia, in Canada’s Parksville-Qualicum district.

At the same time, Stilwell is eyeing the IPC Athletics World Championships in July, and the chance to defend the titles she won two years ago in New Zealand.

“Sport and healthy living will always be a part of my life,” said Stilwell, who also took silver in the 100m T52 in London. “The ability to compete at the elite level will depend on a variety of things.

“Currently my goal is to become a full-time (Member of Legislative Assembly) and represent the people of my riding. I’m doing my best at this time to prepare for the World Championships this summer, as it is a commitment I made prior to deciding to run in this next provincial election.”

At the 2011 IPC World Championships, Stilwell won three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 400m, as well as silver in the 800m T52.

Stilwell is also the world-record holder over 100m, 200m and 400m T52, and there’s no doubting the 38-year-old still wants to prove she is the one to beat on the track. But with politics, athletics and family life all playing an important part of her life, finding time for everything can be hard. Stilwell trains in the early mornings so she can then spend the day on the campaign trail.

“Some days are fairly full and others I am able to fit in family time,” Stilwell said. “I have a fantastic husband who manages to help keep it all together. We make a great team.”

“It takes a ton of time management and a solid plan to juggle all of the tasks. I am very fortunate to have a supportive husband and friends and family that make it possible.”

After taking home two medals from London, Stilwell spent time travelling across Canada, sharing her Paralympic experience with children at schools, hospitals and corporate events.

She took seven weeks off full-time training and slowly got back to fitness doing yoga and weights.

“The first few months were so much fun,” Stilwell said. “I spent as much time reconnecting with friends and family as I could to make up for the years of missed events and being on the road competing.”

And with the Provincial General Elections in May, Stilwell has found herself back on the roads once again, drumming up support.

“I believe if you are passionate enough about the things that are important to you, you will find a way to make it happen,” Stilwell said.

That’s a mantra which Stilwell believes will hold true on and off the track in 2013.

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