World champion Paralympic athlete Michelle Stilwell is the new Liberal candidate for Parksville-Qualicum — and she's gearing up to win another race.
Stilwell is the only female Paralympic athlete to win gold medals in two separate events.
She won gold in wheelchair basketball during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and also won gold in wheelchair sprint events during the Beijing and London Olympic Games.
Stilwell decided to run as a Liberal candidate because she's a die-hard backer of Christy Clark and her "families first" agenda.
"I really see the vision of the premier that we have and I believe in it," said Stilwell.
"I look at the last 12 years and where we have come from in 2001 when the Liberals took over government and I've seen continuous growth."
Stilwell said she has been involved in politics since ninth grade when she started working on a campaign for Conservative Winnipeg MP Bonnie Mitchelson and has considered running on a federal level as a Liberal MP in the past.
She won the riding by acclamation as the only candidate to submit an application before deadline.
Stilwell was injured in an accident when she was 17 years old that left her quadriplegic.
While piggy-backing with friend, she fell down a flight of stairs and broke her neck.
Stilwell has been a strong advocate for persons with disabilities as well as children with special needs, and is an ambassador for ActNowBC.
She said she is prepared for debates despite her lack of experience as a first-time candidate.
"I've already had my first candidates meeting and I've held my own."
Stilwell has lived in the Oceanside community for 11 years, since graduating from the University of Calgary with a science degree.
She's been married to her husband Mark for 15 years and they have a son, Kai.
Stilwell said she may not compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil because of the election.
"I will tell you this, that healthy active living will always be a part of my life no matter what level it will be," she said. "Obviously those decisions can't be made until the election is over and we find out where I stand."
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