Canada’s six-time Paralympic champion Michelle Stilwell has announced her retirement from Para athletics, after a glittering career on the track and in wheelchair basketball.
The 42-year-old won double Paralympic gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, topping the podium in both the 100m and 400m T52.
Rio 2016 was Stilwell’s fourth Games, having first competed at Sydney 2000, where she was part of Canada’s gold-medal winning wheelchair basketball team.
Stilwell switched to Para athletics due to medical reasons relating to her spinal cord injury - she became a quadriplegic aged 17 when she fell during a piggyback accident – and went on to clinch double sprint gold at Beijing 2008, then 200m T52 gold and 100m T52 silver at London 2012.
The first Canadian Paralympian to win gold in two different summer sports, Stilwell announced her retirement on Twitter, stating:
“Thank you for almost 20 years of incredible memories, triumphs, friendships & gratitude. Time to put the brakes on.”
Stilwell also enjoyed major success at multiple World Championships, winning seven gold and two silver medals across three championships in track and field, as well as world gold in 1998 with the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team.
Writing about her retirement on her Facebook page, the current world record holder in the 100m T52 (18.67) and 200m T52 (33.19) said:
“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.
“Sport has moulded me like nothing else could and I hope my journey can serve as an example of all that is possible in a sporting life. So many life lessons that go beyond sport.
“It's not about the medals, the good or bad days. It's about who you chose to become after all is said and done…thank you Canada for allowing me to represent this amazing country. It's been an incredible honour and privilege.”
The Winnipeg native now has a successful career in politics, and is the cabinet minister for Social Development and Social Innovation in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly.