Local MLA and four-time Paralympics gold medalist Michelle Stilwell is making her way to Toronto to take part in the Parapan Am Games.
Stilwell will compete in the 100 and 800-metre events, and look to capture gold in front of her country and fans.
“I’m super stoked and excited,” Stilwell said. “It’s my first opportunity to represent Canada on home soil and I’m really looking forward to that home crowd.”
“I know what it’s like to be able to compete at the Olympic level, in front of 90,000 people in the stands but to be able to compete in front of my fellow Canadians will be a highlight of my career.”
Originally taking part in the 100 and 400 metre events, the 400 was pulled last week so Stilwell finds herself in the 800 metre event instead. Both events will be integrated with other class categories.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Stilwell said. “I’m feeling good about the 100 metre event and with the 800 metre, I’ll just hope to do my best.”
Holding world records in the 100 metre (18.67 seconds), 200 metre (33.58 seconds) and 800 metre (2:14.79 seconds), Stilwell knows that the difference between the 100 and 800 metre events are going to come down to preparation.
“It’s two different mindsets,” Stilwell said. “The 100 metre is a sprint event, you have to be completely focused and ready at the time the gun goes off. There has to be nothing else in your brain that will get in the way of you having a run to make it on the podium.”
“The 800 metre is a different race. Everyone starts off in their own lane and then we all channel into one lane. There’s tactics involved, depending on what the other girls are doing and trying to achieve, it’s either going to be a slow race or a full on sprint for the two laps. So we’ll see what happens next Thursday.”
Having been on the big stage many times before, Stilwell knows the importance of being prepared to give it her best. Any chance to put on the Maple Leaf and represent Canada is special but for Stilwell, it’s more than just having the Canadian colours on.
“We live in the greatest country in the world,” Stilwell said.
“Not only representing Parksville-Qualicum Beach and British Columbia, but the fact that we live in one of the greatest countries in the world and being able to represent Canada, it’s a very special feeling.”
“I’m just so honoured to have the opportunity to wear the Maple Leaf and represent our country.”
“I take a lot of pride in being Canadian and I’m really excited to be in Toronto for this event.”
The 2015 Parapan Am Games kick off August 7 and run through August 15.
Though she’ll miss the opening ceremonies, Stilwell will be competing in the 100 metre on Tuesday, August 11 at 5:12 p.m. (EST) and the 800 metre on Thursday, August 13 at 3:25 p.m. (EST).