Stilwell training Down Under

Oceanside athlete travels to Australia to train for her sport of choice

Michele Stilwell during a recent training run at Sydney Olympic Park.

She’s a long way from home — around 8,000 miles as the crow flies by our calculation — but Nanoose Bay’s Michelle ‘Mikey’ Stilwell is back in the news here in B.C. as she’s been nominated for another Sport BC Athlete of the Year award.

That nomination prompted The News to check in with Mikey, who is currently down under training with the Canadian national team in Australia.

The time difference — she’s five hours behind and a day ahead — means e-mail and Skype are the preferred forms of communication and she said she’s in good spirits and “right on track for London.”

She’s been down there since Dec. 1, and the rest of the Canadian team arrived the first week of January.

“We are here for the warm weather training in prep for London as well as the Summer Down Under Series which begins Jan. 19 and runs through until Jan. 26.”

A showcase and litmus test for wheelchair athletes from the world over, the series features three nights of track and finishes on the 26th (Australia Day) with a 10km race through the historic Rocks in downtown Sydney.

Now that the rest of the Canadian team has arrived there is coaching, a mechanic and a therapist on site.

The first six weeks she Skyped her coach back in Victoria who writes her programs while training with Aussie coach Louise Sauvage.

At this point she said she’s training twice a day four days on and one day off.

“I have access to all the training facilities at NSWIS (New South Wales Institute of Sport) and train mostly in Sydney Olympic park utilizing the legacy that the games left behind in 2000,” she explained.

Stilwell competed in December in Canberra and posted some good times including a third of a second off the world record for the 400m (currently at 1:08.72).

“Still chasing that,” B.C.’s most decorated Paralympian and reigning world record holder surmised. “Hoping for great weather during the series so I can have a chance to make that record mine.”

The rest of the Canadian team will head back on the 27th but Stilwell will stay on until March 1 to continue training.

As for the upcoming London Paralympics, Stilwell made the point “226 days ‘til the opening ceremonies.”

Opening ceremonies are the 29th of August. She will compete Sept. 1 and 5 (200m and 100m).

In the meantime, it’s going to be “a crazy busy year with trips to Portugal, London, Switzerland, Indianapolis, Calgary … I am right on track to where I want to be,” she said. “I am focused on staying healthy and injury free.”

You can follow Michelle at her website


A DAY IN the life of two-time Paralympic and reigning world champion Mikey Stilwell.

Asked for some insight into her training days Mikey said she rolls out between 18-20 km a day on the track depending on the plan du jour, and either swims or does weights in the afternoon.

Last week she said she had “lots of efforts in my training program where you push at 90 per cent capacity for 12 minutes, rest five, and repeat three times … makes you want to puke! I love it.”


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