After 6 years, Canada's Dylan Armstrong finally receives his Olympic bronze
Canadian Olympian shot putter Dylan Armstrong was awarded his Beijing 2008 bronze medal on Feb. 15, 2015 at a ceremony in Kamloops, B.C. The medal re-allocation came more than six years after Armstrong's performance in Beijing. (Jeff Bassett / The Canadian Press)
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, February 15, 2015 5:14PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 15, 2015 7:04PM EST
The feeling is right, even if it came six and a half years late.
On Sunday, Dylan Armstrong finally got the chance to step onto a podium with an Olympic medal hanging from his neck.
The Canadian shot putter was awarded the bronze medal from the 2008 Beijing Summer Games in front of about 700 people in his hometown of Kamloops, B.C.
Armstrong finished fourth in the event in China, just missing the podium with a 21.04-metre throw that left him a centimetre behind Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus, who took home bronze.
But last August, Mikhnevich was issued a lifetime ban for his second career doping offence, after one of his samples from the 2005 World Championships in Finland tested positive. The Belarusian was stripped of all of his competition results post-2005.
And that meant that Armstrong's fourth-place finish was bumped up to bronze.
"Thank you to the IOC, the COC and the IAAF for getting this medal back to Canada where it really belongs," Armstrong said, as he stood on the podium at the Kamloops' Tournament Capital Centre where he trains.
"It's very overwhelming with the people that came out and supported me today," he added.
Supporters at the event chanted Armstrong's name, and he raised his arms triumphantly after five-time Olympic medallist Hayley Wickenheiser placed the medal around his neck. The Canadian national anthem was also played at the medal ceremony.
Despite his imposing stature, the six-foot-four, 306-pound athlete said he was a "bit nervous" about receiving his medal.
"It's probably a bit more nervous when you're in front of your home crowd and a lot of family members that I wouldn't have had in Beijing," Armstrong said.
With his newly-awarded bronze, the 34-year-old Armstrong becomes the first Canadian shot putter to achieve a top-three finish at the Olympics.
"It's obviously the one medal that's going to be the most important to me to have accomplished in my career," he told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.
"You can never replace the moment, but you make the best of it," he added.
Canadian Olympic Committee President, Marcel Aubut, was on hand at the event. Aubut admitted that one of the reasons why it took so long for the ceremony to take place was that the original medal needed to be retrieved.
"While there was no medal awarded in Beijing that day, Dylan, you are living proof that good things come to people who are hardworking … and talented," Aubut said at the event.
Armstrong's medal pushes Canada's total in Beijing to 19, and moves it past Spain into 13th in the overall medal standings.
"It is a big deal for Canada," said Aubut.
"Dylan, you have done yourself and your country proud."
Armstrong said he doesn't like to dwell on the earnings he missed out on after Beijing's tainted standings, but he told The Canadian Press that by finishing fourth, he lost "over a million bucks for sure" in endorsements, appearance fees and sponsor bonuses.
"I would probably have got more lucrative endorsements and sponsorships and things like that," he said. "I'd be in a way better financial situation for sure.”
This is the second time that Armstrong has been moved up to a podium position thanks to Mikhnevich's lifetime ban. The Canadian was also awarded a bronze for his performance at the 2010 World Championships in Qatar.
"It just shows if you listen to your coach and you're dedicated and you work hard, you can do it clean,” Armstrong said. I'm a prime example of that.”
While Sunday's ceremony didn't have quite same level of theatrics as the Olympics, may be the biggest of Armstrong's career.
He struggled through elbow problems to a disappointing fifth-place finish in the 2012 London Olympics.
Armstrong underwent surgery to remove bone chips from the elbow in late December, but it is unclear if or when he will compete in 2015. Right now, Armstrong intends to vie for a medal next year at the Olympic Games in Rio.