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Kamloops athlete wins silver in Peru despite back injury

Kamloops's Greg Stewart is getting ready to compete in Dubai at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships. He is pictured here after placing silver in shot put at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Greg Stewart
September 10, 2019 - 3:50 PM

KAMLOOPS - If there is one valuable lesson Kamloops's Greg Stewart learned during his trip to South America this summer for the Parapan American Games, it was to stay in the present while competing.

The 7’2” tall athlete from Kamloops recently placed silver in shot put at the Parapan American Games in Lima Peru with a back injury. But despite the injury, the longtime athlete says he was proud of his accomplishments.

“I’ve been competing for a long time… and this is the best experience I’ve ever had as an athlete,” he says.

The day before Stewart was set to leave Canada, he pulled his back while lifting. He could barely walk and says the 15-hour flight to South America was a challenge on its own.

“I was feeling doubtful that I would be able to compete,” he says, adding that he had very limited mobility and was in a considerable amount of pain.

With the help of his physiotherapist, Stewart was able to get in the shape to compete. That alone, he says, was a victory itself.

This is the first time Stewart had ever competed as an individual and the feeling of representing himself and his country was an emotional experience, he says. 

“To be able to watch other competitors lining up to race, or run, or jump - like just to be able to a part of that was so magical,” he says. “When you do an individual sport, there is no one to lean on but yourself so it’s all about what you put in.”

Stewart says he had coaches and other athletes write down jokes in a notebook for him so he could look at while he was competing to help him stay present. 

“Throwing sports are a very mental game, you only throw six times in shot put but you have to wait five minutes between each throw,” he says. “So in a way, there can be a lot of pressure in one throw and so by me just staying present and really focusing on the importance of having fun and doing what I am doing because I enjoy it, that’s what created the success in the end.”

This is the third Parapan American games Stewart has attended. He is currently training full-time to compete at the World Para Athletics Championships Dubai in November. 

“A really big thing I brought into my competition was the importance of not focusing on whether I messed up, not what my competitors are doing or anything like that, I was really just focusing on being there,” he says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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