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HomeRunningCanadian shot putter punches ticket to Paralympics, publishes children's book

Canadian shot putter punches ticket to Paralympics, publishes children’s book


Greg Stewart is instantly likeable. He exudes positive energy—and watching him throw the shot put is intense. If you can’t see the 7’2″ Paralympian and gold medallist in real life, you can read his new children’s book, co-written with children’s author Sean Campbell and released last week. We caught up with Stewart at Bell Canadian Track & Field Trials, where he handily secured the championship title and his spot at the Paralympic Games in Paris, to find out why he decided to come out of retirement, how he came to write a children’s book and what the power of sport means to him.

Paralympic gold medallist shot putter Greg Stewart announces retirement

The Claude-Robillard Sports Complex holds good memories for Stewart, who first found shot put at a Paralympics talent ID camp in Montreal at age 30. Before that, he played basketball and volleyball in university and on the national team respectively, but field events like shot put had never been on his radar.

“As a later-in-life athlete, my height definitely helped me get up to speed faster,” he says. “If I was shorter, I think it would have taken longer to get to where I was.” (The extra height helps give him a higher trajectory when he throws.)

“I’m really excited, coming out of retirement,” he says. “It’s been a really fun, exciting time. But I think it’s important to be out here. I’ll be 38 in July. I think there’s a real importance in being an athlete and being able to share our different stories. Athletes are great at self-reflection; we need to pay such close attention. And I think we have a gift to share. I just felt like my story wasn’t over yet. I wanted to continue to support other athletes and build the Paralympic movement.”

Greg Stewart
Greg Stewart at the Bell Canadian Track & Field Olympic Trials in Montreal, June 2024. Photo: Molly Hurford

In addition to heading to the Paralympics in Paris, Stewart has two other major life events this summer. The first was the release of his children’s book a week ahead of Trials, and the other is his wedding in September—a tight turnaround after Paris, but his fiancée is supporting him the entire way.

While he’s out of retirement, he did make some changes when he came back to the shot put, with an eye toward longevity and overall health, in addition to performance. “People are surprised when they hear that it’s not always easy to train at this level and also be an overall healthy person,” he says. Now, as an older athlete, in addition to throwing four to five times a week, he’s focused on mobility, stability and flexibility. Some cross-training sneaks into the mix as well, and he focuses a lot more on overall strength, not just what muscles need to be built for the farthest throw.

Under Armour Diversity Series: Greg Stewart

And of course, he needed to take time to work on the book with Campbell. Titled Stand Out: The True Story of Paralympic Gold Medallist Greg Stewart, it’s part of Campbell’s Stand Out series, which shares stories of top athletes—but includes deeper conversations about belonging, inclusion and other lessons that sport can teach.

“When he reached out to me, he said he wanted to share more about being a Paralympic champion, and the importance of that, what I learned about myself along the way,” Stewart says. “So the book is about me growing up as a kid, and struggling to come to terms with viewing myself as a disabled person and what that means. I think in those younger years, we’re trying to find ourselves, we’re trying to understand who we are. And so that’s what the book represents.”

Greg Stewart
Photo: Andrew Snucins

“I’ve been in sport for 25 years, and that has allowed me to understand who I am and how I interact with my body, how I interact in my mind and how I interact with the environment,” he adds. “Sport teaches us everything. I hope more and more people recognize the importance of sport, whether it’s on a team or individual level.”

The book also delves into a less-discussed topic: bullying. “I wouldn’t say that I was physically or verbally bullied, but I was definitely bullied in the sense of just not being included,” he says. “I think the book does a good job of representing that feeling of standing out.”

“What I want people to get from it, though, is that what can help is surrounding yourself with support, recognizing who you really are, and learning to love yourself for who you are.”

Greg Stewart
Photo: Andrew Snucins

Stewart is hoping to spend some time doing a book tour in Canada, talking to kids at schools and libraries across the country—but, considering his busy competition schedule, that will likely happen in September, or later.

Check out the book, Stand Out: The True Story of Paralympic Gold Medallist Greg Stewart, here.

 



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