Paralympic athlete Michelle Stilwell's surprising pregame ritual

The wheelchair racer, originally from Winnipeg, is a three-time gold medallist. She tells us where she gets her strength and her award-winning advice
By Alanna Glassman

Michelle Stilwell racing in wheelchair on track

Age: 37
Sport: Wheelchair racing
Trains: 6 hours a day
Hometown: Winnipeg

Michelle Stilwell just keeps getting better. The three-time Paralympic gold medallist and world-record holder continues to beat her personal bests. "Every second counts for a sprinter like me. I credit my ability to shave hundredths of seconds off my times to my raw and vegan diet, which keeps me so energized," she says. Michelle is the only female Paralympian to have won gold in two separate summer sports, wheelchair basketball and racing (in the 100-m and 200-m events). She became a quadriplegic at 17 after a fall from a piggyback ride that broke her neck.

Why this sport: "I know I wouldn't be where I am today without it. Through racing, I got stronger and I regained my independence."

Top workout tip: "Everybody needs a down day. Take time to stretch and hydrate. The way we treat our bodies dictates how well we perform. Fitness isn't just about training. It's a lifestyle."

Pre-race ritual: A facial and pedicure. "I'll probably paint maple leaves on my big toes for London."

Favourite kitchen appliance: "My Vitamix! I use it every day."

She got her strength from: "My momma! She’s the most determined and strong woman I know. She came from an era of hard work and hard times, and she made something of herself. She inspires me every day."

Her award-winning advice: "Put your thoughts into action. You have to live your dream to make it a reality. The only difference between possible and impossible is attitude."

Get more Olympic inspiration here.


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