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Stewart of Kamloops wins gold at Paralympics

Greg Stewart knew it was an an absolute bomb. "Hi, mom and dad," the 7-foot-2, 350-pound Kamloopsian mouthed to the camera that found him after the 16.
Greg Stewart
Greg Stewart celebrates after winning gold in shot put on Tuesday at the Paralympic Winter Games in Tokyo.

Greg Stewart knew it was an an absolute bomb.

"Hi, mom and dad," the 7-foot-2, 350-pound Kamloopsian mouthed to the camera that found him after the 16.75-metre throw, his first of six in the men's F46 shot put competition on Tuesday at the Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo.

"Love you guys."

A gargantuan effort, the heave — a personal-best, Canadian record and Paralympics record — held up as the gold-medal winning throw.

Nikita Prokhorov won silver with a 16.29m effort and Joshua Cinnamo claimed bronze with a toss of 15.90m.

The Kamloops shot putter's throws, in order, measured 16.75m, 16.39m, X, 15.87m, 16.73m and 16.29m.

Important to keep in mind: the big fella moved the implement 13.08m at his first International Paralympic Committee-sanctioned event in 2017. His growth over the next two years was phenomenal.

Stewart, who was born with nothing below his left elbow, won silver in the men’s F46 division at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, throwing 16.30 metres to establish a Canadian record and dismantle his own personal best.

He bested that mark on Throw 1 at the Paralympics to claim gold for Canada.

Stewart, who seemed in a zen-like mental state heading into the Games, took time throughout the event to encourage opponents and athletes competing in other sports across the stadium.

He also had a binder full of messages sent from friends and family back home, notes he read between throws to find inspiration.

Dylan Armstrong, a former Olympic bronze medallist shot putter, is Stewart's coach.

"I see podium potential in 2020," Armstrong told KTW in February of 2018. "We're not going to make the final. We're going to win."

Armstrong did not travel to Tokyo, but was reached at home on Tuesday night.

"I jumped out of my seat," Armstrong said. "I couldn't believe it.

"He did everything we planned. Greg's in really good shape. I said, 'If you throw a really, really big one and try to PB on the first throw, you're going to put the pressure on early.'

"He executed in doing that and that's exactly what happened. Everybody just, I wouldn't say crumbled, but the people that were supposed to do pretty good, they didn't."

Stewart’s efforts to reach the Paralympics began in 2001, with stints on the national standing and seated disabled volleyball teams yielding gold medals at world championships and world cups, but never a berth in the Games.

"It's amazing," Armstrong said. "Big congrats to Greg.

"It's been a long journey, a fun one. I don't think the journey is over. I think we've got bigger things on the horizon. We could take another crack in three years. He's got world championships next year if he wants to pursue them.

"But let's just enjoy the moment."

KAMLOOPS LAST WEEK

Stewart joined Kamloops Last Week for an interview before leaving for Tokyo.

Find that here.