A world champion on the track, Michelle Stilwell is about to compete in a very different kind of race.
The NEWS learned on Thursday that Stilwell is the only candidate who has declared her intention to seek the B.C. Liberal nomination in the Parksville-Qualicum riding.
“It’s something I have been thinking about for several years but athletics has always taken precedence,” said Stilwell, 38. “I know I am a hard worker and determined and when I set a goal I do my best to achieve it.”
Constituency association president Bruce Cownden confirmed Stilwell’s candidacy has been approved by the party. He said other candidates may surface before or even during the Jan. 8 nomination meeting.
“I think (Stilwell) will make a great candidate and it’s nice to see a young candidate,” said Cownden. “I think it gives us an opportunity to hold the riding.”
Stilwell said her political experience is limited to being a member of various boards.
“It’s all about being a voice for the people you represent,” she said.
The City of Parksville dedicated September 23 of this year as Michelle Stilwell Day after she returned from the London Paralympics with a gold and silver medal from the 200-metre and 100-metre wheelchair sprints, respectively. She is also the first person in Parksville’s history to be awarded a key to the city.
At that ceremony in September, Stilwell, 38, hinted about a desire to compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil. Those plans could be sidetracked by a successful political campaign.
“I would have to run in the election, and win the election, before that decision would have to be made,” she said Thursday.
Since returning from London, Stilwell said she has been training and home-schooling her son Kai, 11. She said the decision to enter politics will include her family’s input.
“My husband (Mark) is definitely used to juggling my lifestyle,” she said. “He’s been very supportive.”
In total, Stilwell has four gold medals and one silver from three Paralympics Games, and five gold and two silver from world championship events. Stilwell broke her neck when falling backwards off a piggyback from her boyfieind when she was 17.