Virginia McLachlan is a local track star whose talents and determination took her all the way to the podium at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, UK. Whether it was the 100m, the 200m, the 400m or the long jump, McLachlan was a star.
McLachlan was born with cerebral palsy that affected three of her four limbs, and growing up, she required daily intensive therapy. When she was seven, her physiotherapist suggested sports as a way to help her body. She tried track and it was love at first stride. She’s not stopped since.
“I loved every event in its own way,” the multi-event star confessed. “My favourite track event was the 200m. I liked the staggered start. It felt more of a challenge and the corner was always my favourite part of the race.”
The Windsor native graduated from Assumption in 2010 with an OFSSA silver and three bronze. She also won an incredible 14 medals at the Canadian nationals, including gold in the long jump, five straight years.
With these successes, international competition was the next logical step. Her first international meet was the 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in Christchurch, NZ. She didn’t medal that meet, but she wouldn’t have to wait long for the medals to come. She won silvers in the 100m and 200m later that year in the ParaPan games in Guadalajara, Mexico. She became a Social Work student at the University of Windsor the following year but the bigger accomplishment was her double-bronze (100m and 200m) performances at the Paralympic Games in London.
McLachlan has a difficult time putting the Paralympic experience into words and was in disbelief that she was able to fulfill her dream by participating in the London Games.
“I’m pretty sure I asked our national coach three times if he was sure before I believed him. I called my Mom, half-crying and half-laughing and it’s a phone call I’ll never forget.”
She found herself constantly reminding herself that London 2012 was not just a dream – that the experience was real and for her to soak up as much as she could. She brought home two incredible souvenirs to keep the memories alive.
“My medals are displayed in my living room,” McLachlan said. “I see them every day. They are the most important things I have. They are amazing reminders of where I have been and all the adventures I have been able to experience.”
There was no slowing McLachlan down after the Paralympics and she’s captured more awards and medals than we have room to list. We would be remiss, however, not to mention her King Clancy Award in 2013 and her three WESPY awards (2012, 2013 and 2016), along with Canada’s Para-Athlete of the Year Award in Ambulatory in 2014.
McLachlan’s success on tracks near and far make her a worthy inductee into the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame. Congratulations, Virginia!