GOLD: Stewart tops shot put at first Paralympic Games

Canadian sets record on first attempt of the morning

Greg Stewart, Canadian shot putter, with his gold medal at Tokyo 2020
Greg Stewart got the gold medal after setting a new Paralympic record of 16.75m in the men's F46 shot put event. Canadian Paralympic Committee

It might be impossible for athletes to achieve perfection, but if anything gets close to it, it’s Greg Stewart’s performance at his first-ever Paralympic Games on Wednesday morning.

In just his first attempt of the day, the 35-year-old broke his season best, the Canadian record, and the Paralympic record in the F46 shot put event with a mark of 16.75 metres that put him in first place from the very beginning.

After more than two decades on the Parasport scene, this is definitely a career high for the athlete from Kamloops, B.C.

“I can’t even describe it yet. I don’t have the words. It’s been a very cool experience,” Stewart said after the competition. “I went in thinking, ‘Just have fun’. Ultimately that’s what matters; the rest just took care of itself.

“It’s about remembering why we are here, accepting what is and looking at the reality of being in this moment.”

Even though this was his Games’ debut, there were clear signals in previous seasons that showed he was ready for the challenge.

In 2019, the 7-foot-2 shot putter placed second in the two most important events prior to Tokyo 2020: the Parapan American Games in Lima and the International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Dubai.

In the case of the event hosted in the Peruvian capital, he even managed to reach the podium after suffering from a back injury the day before his event.

Both of these competitions had U.S. representative Joshua Cinnamo winning gold, so being able to finally defeat him gave the Canadian victory a much deeper meaning.

The American ended up in third place with a throw of 15.90 metres, 85 cm less than Stewart’s highest mark. However, it was the member of the Russian Paralympic Committee and former Paralympic champion at London 2012, Nikita Prokhorov, who challenged the member of Team Canada the most, achieving a distance of 16.29.

Stewart said his approach came from the advice of his coach, and Olympic bronze medallist in 2008, Dylan Armstrong.

“This was a top-eight finish already, so there’s nothing to lose. Just go out there, throw, and trust the process,” said the Paralympian. “Dylan always says to throw your furthest and your hardest on your very first one and let the others deal with that. I didn’t even know how far I threw on the first one.”

An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect sub headline. This error has been fixed and the Observer apologizes.

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Posted: Sep 1 2021 10:39 am
Filed under: Athletics Sports Tokyo Paralympics