British Columbia·Q&A

B.C. Paralympian calls it quits after multiple international wins

Kamloops shot putter Greg Stewart is retiring after competing and winning at an international level.

Greg Stewart won gold in shot put at the Toyko Paralympics and silver at the Lima Parapan American Games

Canada's Greg Stewart winning gold in shot put at the Tokyo Paralympics on Wednesday in Japan. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Greg Stewart has been a big name in the Canadian athletic world for over two decades, and now he has decided to retire.

He grew up in Kamloops in B.C.'s Interior, competing at a high school level before playing basketball and volleyball at the university level at Thompson Rivers University. 

Stewart was born without the lower part of his left arm, but his mom Leanne Stewart says he never let that slow him down. 

"There honestly hasn't been a whole lot that Greg can't do. He had a motto of 'the one-arm man can.'"

Stewart, centre, poses on the podium with Russian silver medallist Nikita Prokhorov, left, and bronze medallist American Joshua Cinnamo, right. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Stewart has gone on to compete and win at an international level. Beyond the most recent gold medal at the Toyko Paralympics, he won silver at both the 2019 IPC World Championships and Parapan American Games, among other significant finishes. 

This week, he took to social media to say he was stepping away from competition.

Stewart spoke to Daybreak Kamloops host Doug Herbert about his decision.

The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

What led to this big decision to retire from competition? 

To be honest with you, it was a pretty easy decision. When you don't have passion for something anymore, it's a fairly easy question to answer and honestly, when you finish on top, it's a pretty unique place to be.

I just was at this place where I'm like, 'I just don't have passion for it.' I think I created something that not many people get the opportunity to, and I like to leave it there and focus on things that I am more passionate about. 

Did you second guess yourself along the way as you made this decision or was it, you just knew in your heart? 

I'm pretty sure I knew in my heart shortly after the games back in August-September. The drive wasn't there, the will to want to compete.

I've been doing it for so long, and now that drive to better myself every day and everything like that at a competitive sports level. It's still there for like work purposes and life purposes, but just not so much in the athletic realm of life. 

What's next for you if you're not competing professionally? 

I want to explore work. I own my own company. I want to expand that or at least explore it a little bit more. I work in the automotive recycling business [recycling cars and scrap metal].

I started it about a year and a half ago, so I found it to be super helpful because it allows me the opportunity to earn a living but also compete full time.

[Also] exploring my passion for my partner, seeing where that takes us. Taylor and I have been together for a couple of years now, and who knows where that world will take us to? And just exploring what it's like to not be an athlete. 

WATCH |  Greg Stewart celebrates Paralympic win: 

Your social media posts mentioned that you've struggled many days. What do you mean by that? 

I thought about that more and more since I posted yesterday, and I want to say that 99 per cent of the time, I'm in good spirits, but the reason why I post this struggle is because I think we all do.

I just like to discuss the difficult or vulnerable conversations that we all think we're all experiencing just so that we can bring kind of a level of understanding and a level of recognition so that I can remind people or support people that you're not the only one that's thinking that. 

It's difficult to show up because we make up this whole story in our mind, what we think the outcome is going to be when in reality, it usually isn't the case. I thought it was important to share that, at times, it is really, really difficult, especially during COVID. 

You've been an inspiration to so many people here in Kamloops. Might you continue as a coach or mentor at some point? 

Yeah, absolutely. I definitely feel that the pull to work more in like a professional speaking role. Supporting people, talking about the difficult conversations, speaking in a place of vulnerability, because in a place of vulnerability, there's tons of opportunity for growth.

There's also tons of opportunity to be heard, but it's also a time where you can learn more and adjust and grow as an individual, so I definitely want to expand on that side of things.

But I do feel the pull to maybe have that conversation with our younger generation because, looking at COVID, there's a couple of years that I think a lot of kids missed out on many, many great things and just to kind of talk with them, to know that there's so many great things happening right now, even though we might have a hard time recognizing that. Who knows what we're training for right now? But, keep your head up and keep training because great things will happen.


Jenifer Norwell

Story Producer

Jenifer Norwell has been working with CBC since 2008. She's worked in Prince George, Vancouver, Sudbury and now makes her home in her hometown of Kamloops. She works with CBC Kamloops and with Daybreak Kamloops.