3044-Michelle Stilwell photo

Michelle Stilwell

Athletics | Wheelchair Basketball


Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Spinal Cord Injuries
Origin of Impairment

Further personal information

Husband Mark, son Kai
Higher education
Psychology - University of Calgary: Canada

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began wheelchair racing in 2004.
Why this sport?
After retiring from wheelchair basketball for medical reasons relating to her spinal cord injury, coach Peter Lawless suggested wheelchair racing instead.

General interest

Mikey (, 23 Sep 2011)
Memorable sporting achievement
Defending her 200m title at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. "They were the most successful Paralympic Games in history. I left the village with this overwhelming sense of wonder and accomplishment for having been part of what happened. For the first time, the majority of reporters were talking about the brilliance and the talent of the athletes. We were just marathoners, and swimmers, and sprinters. It really was just a huge advancement for the Paralympic movement." (, 28 Nov 2012)
Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs
Before a race, she listens to her favourite song and uses visualisation techniques to help her focus on the race. (, 11 Nov 2010)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"We all have struggles every single day of our lives. We just have to have the courage to try." (, 31 Dec 2012)
Awards and honours
She was named Best Female Athlete of 2012 by the Canadian Paralympic Committee. (, 10 May 2013)

Athletics Canada named her Outstanding Para-Athlete of the Year in Wheelchair Events for 2010, 2011 and 2012. (, 19 Dec 2012)

In 2008 she was presented with the Key to the City of Winnipeg, MN, Canada. (, 30 Mar 2010)
Other sports
She won a gold medal as part of Canada's wheelchair basketball team at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney. (, 30 Mar 2010)
She fell from a friend's back while piggyback riding at age 17 and landed on her neck. The impact shattered vertebrae and left her with quadriplegia. She has required multiple operations on her spine since, including various bone fusions and grafts from her hip and calf bone. (, 31 Dec 2012;, 30 Mar 2010)
Other information
She announced her retirement from competitive sport in February 2017. "This decision has been difficult, but the time is right. I will move forward with new goals, taking the best of what I've learned through my sports career with me." (, 16 Feb 2017)

In May 2013 she was elected as a government official after winning the seat for the Parksville-Qualicum constituency on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. She was named minister of social development and social innovation in February 2015. (, 15 May 2013;, 17 Apr 2015)

After winning gold in wheelchair basketball at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, she won a further two gold medals in athletics at the 2008 Games in Beijing. This meant she became the first Canadian Paralympian to win gold in two different [summer] sports at the Paralympic Games. (, 01 Sep 2012;, 31 Dec 2012)

She met her husband Mark at the 1996 National Basketball Championships in Montreal, QC, Canada. When he discovered Stilwell was from Winnipeg, MN, Canada, he told her his aunt and uncle lived there. They turned out to be her parents' best friends. "I have pictures of my dad dancing with his mum at his aunt and uncle's cottage several years before we ever met," she said. (, 31 Dec 2012)

Despite her initial reluctance, coach Peter Lawless was insistent that she should try wheelchair racing in the period after her basketball career ended. She finally agreed to attend a meet and competed in a 1500m race, which took her nearly 15 minutes to finish. "I got beaten by a 13-year-old boy. I felt so slow, so pathetic, but I was pretty much hooked. I was determined that wasn't going to happen again." (, 28 Aug 2011)


Unit Date Rank
IPC Athletics World Championships Assen 2006 (Assen, Netherlands)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m T52 Final Round 2
Women's 200 m T52 Final Round 1
Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games (Sydney, Australia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Tournament Final 101
Women's Tournament Semifinal 202
Women's Tournament Group B 3
Women's Tournament Group B 2
Women's Tournament Group B 1
Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games (Beijing, China)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m T52 Final Round 1
Women's 100 m T52 Final Round 1
2011 IPC Athletics World Championships (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m T52 Final 2011-01-22 1
Women's 200 m T52 Final 2011-01-24 1
Women's 400 m T52 Final 2011-01-26 1
Women's 800 m T52 Final 2011-01-28 2
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m T52 Final Round 2012-09-01 1
Women's 100 m T52 Final Round 2012-09-05 2
IPC Athletics World Championships (Lyon, France)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 800 m T52 Final 1 2013-07-25 1
Women's 100 m T52 Final 1 2013-07-26 1
Women's 200 m T52 Final 1 2013-07-27 1
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 400 m T52 Final Round 2016-09-10 1
Women's 100 m T52 Final Round 2016-09-17 1