Michael Edgson enters the Hall of Fame in the athlete category for his astounding accomplishments as a swimmer. He could have harboured a lifetime of resentment after he was dealt a cruel blow at a very young age. Michael was sick as an infant and the prescribed medication damaged his optic nerves, rendering him close to blindness. When asked if he was bitter, he said he had zero bitterness because he is alive and his life has been truly enriched. As a young boy Michael tried hockey, an experience he called abysmal, and soccer, which was unsuccessful because of his lack of depth perception. At age 11, he was introduced to the Nanaimo Riptides Swim Club and his remarkable competitive career began. A year later he turned his skill and determination into winning at the national level with the Canadian Blind Sports Association Swim Team.
After swimming with the Riptides from grades 6 to 12, Michael came to Victoria and joined the UVic Vikes and Vic O's programs. His coach at UVic, Dr. Peter Vizsolyi, recalls that Michael was determined to attain the "able-bodied" standard for Canadian Inter-Varsity Sport Championships. Although unable to qualify, his dynamic personality contributed greatly to the overall success of the swim team in able-bodied competition and his achievements in disabled swimming were unparalleled.
Michael continued his winning ways, and at the 1984 Summer Paralympics in Long Island, Michael won five gold medals, three silver and he set four new World records. At the 1986 World Championships for the Physically Disabled he won nine events. That same year he made headlines in Victoria as the first disabled athlete to be nominated for a major Canadian sports award. He was a finalist for the Norton H. Crowe Award for Canada's Male Athlete of the Year, along with his friend and eventual winner, Mark Tewksbury.
Over his storied career, Michael's accomplishments include 32 individual medals and more than 20 world records in an 11-year period from 1982 to 1993. In Paralympics competition, Michael won nine gold medals and set four world records in Seoul in 1988 where he was invited to be the flag bearer for the closing ceremony. He went on to win four golds, a silver and a world record at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics. With 18 Paralympic gold medals he is the most decorated paralympian in Canadian history.
His achievements and recognition include: a three-time recipient of the BC Disabled Athlete of the Year Award; a member of the organizational team for the 1994 Commonwealth Games; in 2009 the first Paralympics swimmer to be inducted into Swimming Canada's Circle of Excellence; inductee into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 2006, the Canadian Paralympic Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and the BC Sports Hall of Fame last year.
SPONSORED BY THE CANADIAN PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE