Clay Mason Stephens
After five knee surgeries, a short-lived retirement and the pandemic, Clay Stephens (Gymnastics) finally fulfilled his dreams of competing at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 where he finished 4th in the Team event, 7th on Floor and was the best of the Australians in the All-Around. He also sacrificed his own spot in the Horizontal Bar final to allow teammate Tyson Bull to compete. Born with Poland Syndrome, which means he is missing a large piece of his right pectoral muscle, Stephens began gymnastics at the age of five after being spotted at a talent identification program. He was eventually recruited into the Gymnastics SA junior elite talent squad. After winning gold on Floor, Vault and Parallel Bars, silver on Horizontal Bar and bronze on the Pommel at the Australian under-17 titles, he was selected for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing where he placed 23rd in the All-Around and 4th on Vault. 2015 was his first Senior Nationals and he finished 8th All-Around and 2nd on Vault. At the 2017 World Championships in Montreal, Stephens finished 14th on Vault in qualifications before he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). He was sidelined again in March 2019 when he tore his right ACL and his Olympic dreams were crushed by another knee injury at a World Cup event in Melbourne in February 2020, his first competitive event back. Stephens finished second in the All-Around at the 2022 Australian Championships and 4th in the Horizontal Bar. Stephens, who write and performs music in his spare time, has been mentored by Sam Offord, who won two gold medals at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games. He attended the University of Illinois alongside fellow gymnast Tyson Bull, graduating in 2022.
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