Sport was about connection for Paralympic champion Greg Stewart

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 29, 2022

Shot put star announced retirement this month


KAMLOOPS, B.C. – Paralympic Games shot put champion Greg Stewart made an appearance last week at the Bell Canadian Track and Field Championships in Langley, B.C. – but not as a competitor.

The 35-year-old Stewart announced earlier this month that he has retired from competitive sport after a distinguished career in three disciplines – basketball, volleyball, and athletics – capped with his victory in Tokyo last summer.

“It was nice just to be at nationals again,” said Stewart, who is an athlete representative on Athletics Canada’s Board of Directors. “I was happy to see and talk to our Para athletes and other athletes as well, along with the support staff. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into an event like that.”

He did experience some early wistfulness while he watched hundreds of athletes battling for Canadian titles, but knows he made the right decision.

“There was a bit of a feeling of missing out,” he admitted. “I’m around like-minded people with all the same dream. But I know when I get back home, I won’t have that passion or that will, to get back to the gym and train.

“I recognize the difference between the two of those.”

Stewart was born without the lower part of his left arm, but it’s not the first thing most observe about him. Stewart stands seven-feet-two-inches tall, a stature that makes everyone notice him wherever he goes.

“I speak this honestly, my biggest disability isn’t my arm, it’s my height,” he said. “Being 7-2 I’m always in a spotlight of some sort and it affects me far more than my arm does. Just fitting in anything, sleeping in a bed, driving a vehicle, ducking under doorways, or walking into a group of staring people.”

By age 14, Stewart was already six-foot-eight and knew he was different. He was encouraged to get involved in basketball and volleyball in high school. He felt a constant need to prove himself and fit in.

It affected his mental health in particular, but he sought help to deal with his struggles.

“Mental health is far more important than we sometimes believe,” he said. “It determines whether we have a disability or not. Over the years I’ve understood it, worked with counsellors and support teams to help me recognize my disability and learn to grow with it.”

Before becoming a Para athletics thrower in 2017, Stewart already had many sporting achievements to his name.

He was part of Canada’s bronze medal winning men’s sitting volleyball teams at the 2007 and 2011 Parapan American Games and won three world titles with the men’s Para standing volleyball team. At Thompson Rivers University he was a star on the varsity basketball team and was the 2010-11 USports defensive player of the year.

“Sport was a way to connect,” Stewart said about pursuing athletic endeavours. “To help me push beyond, travel the world, and experience different cultures. It did so much for me in adapting and being motivated.

“’It creates a space to continue to learn.”

Finally last summer, after a one-year delay, Stewart competed at his first Paralympic Games. His amazing triumph, in a Paralympic record throw of 16.75 metres no less, was definitely a career highlight. But in the end, it won’t be all he takes away from his sports career.

“I don’t have a specific memory that I would say is the top one,” said Stewart. “It’s a lumpsum of the relationships I made, overcoming the obstacles and struggles.

“It’s learning more about myself as an individual.”

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