Stilwell to be named to Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame

Canadian Paralympic wheelchair sprinter Michelle Stilwell smiles after receiving the gold medal in the women's 200m final at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London on Sept. 1, 2012. (File photo: Larry Wong/Postmedia Network)

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The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame announced their 2019 class of inductees on July 8, which will include a multiple Paralympic gold medallist with an Interlake connection.

Wheelchair athlete Michelle Stilwell, whose mother is from Ashern and still has family in the Interlake, was one of the four individual athletes named to this year’s class. Now living in Parksville, B.C. as an MLA for the Parksville-Qualicum riding, Stilwell wrote in an email to The Interlake Spectatorthat she was proud to receive the honour.

“It is an incredible honour to be recognized for my achievement in sport by my home province. It has been a privilege to represent Canada on the world stage and Manitoba played a big part in my journey to get there,” she wrote. “My love of sport started at a young age and was nurtured by countless people and organizations in the province I was raised in. My thanks goes out to everyone who had a hand in shaping my success as an athlete and Paralympian.”

After suffering a neck injury as a teenager which left her a quadriplegic, Stilwell later joined Canada’s national women’s wheelchair basketball team and won her first Paralympic gold medal in 2000. Soon after, she left basketball and became a wheelchair racer where she achieved even greater success.

On the track competing in the T52 classification, Stilwell won nine World Championship gold medals, six Paralympic gold medals as well as a silver between 2008 and 2016, and currently holds the world record in both the 100-metres and 200-metres.

The other inductees are Olympic gold medal-winning skeleton athlete and television host Jon Montgomery, weightlifter Susanne Dandenault, cricketer Charles Baksh, rowing builder Don Hornby, basketball/wheelchair basketball builder Maureen Orchard and FIFA World Cup soccer official Hector Vergara. The only team inducted was the Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team from 1987 to 1989.

The ceremony will take place at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg on Nov. 2.