KAMLOOPS — He’s been a standout on the hardwood and on the volleyball court; he just generally stands out. At 7’2”, Greg Stewart is conspicuous in his appearance and lately he’s been conspicuous in a whole new discipline.
At a recent track and field meet in Phoenix, Arizona Stewart heaved a shot put 15.8 metres, which is not far off a world record. That toss has propelled him to the top of the World Para Shot Put rankings. Not bad for a guy who started in the sport less than a year ago.
From far enough back, Greg Stewart looks like any other shot-putter toiling under the watchful eye of his coach; when you realize his coach is Dylan Armstrong, who stands in the neighbourhood of 6’3” and has launched a few balls in his day - Stewart’s scale becomes more evident.
“Josh [Cinnamo, current F46 Para Shot Put World Record Holder], who I competed against this past weekend was kinda joking around, saying ‘I wish I could release it 9’6” in the air,” Stewart said after returning from the competition.
For Armstrong, Stewart’s height means long levers, all available to give Greg an advantage over other athletes who aren’t 7’2”.
“He’s definitely the tallest shot-putter in the world,” Armstrong said of his star pupil. “It’s an advantage for sure. He’s got a long reach, so he’s got a lot of time to push on the ball and get it out there. I think that helps him a lot, and he’s definitely got more in the tank.”
If that’s the case, Stewart is on track to smash the current F46 Para Shot Put World record, which is 15.98 metres. Greg has been training for shot put for less than a year, but according to Armstrong, Stewart’s athletic background has helped prepare the big man.
“He has a good base, good background,” Armstrong said. “He’s a volleyball player, basketball player, so that helps with coordination… He picks up things well, he’s a quick learner. That's part of the combination of why he’s been so successful so far.”
While Stewart enjoyed playing team sports, he says the accountability of competing as an individual is part of what drives him to be better.
“It’s whatever I put in,” Stewart explained. “With basketball and volleyball over the years… if I was having an off game, there’s [teammates] there to help you out. With this, if I’m having a down day, I’m having a down day. That’s it.”
While breaking a world record is likely in the near future, Stewart says he’s focused on the process and not the results.
“I think I can push myself a lot further,” Stewart said. “I don’t know what that distance would look like, but realistically that distance doesn’t matter. It’s all about making that commitment to showing up every day, training hard and throwing far.”
The imposing athlete also credits training in his hometown as a way to remain grounded.
“There’s a lot of good things coming from this, but I’m still a Kamloops boy. I still say Hi to everybody just like everybody says Hi to me. I just want to remain that way.”