World Cup marks amazing return from injuries for SASI stars

Less than 12 months ago the sporting worlds of gymnasts Chris Remkes and Clay Stephens came crashing down with serious knee injuries in separate competitions, just hours apart in different countries. Now the duo is back in the game, selected to compete for Australia in the Gymnastics World Cup in Melbourne between 20 and 23 February.

Chris RemkesClay Stephens

GYMNASTICS Australia and SASI stars Chris Remkes and Clay Stephens have shared a remarkable journey over the past 12 months, both suffering cruel ACL injuries within a day of each other and are now returning to a top-class competition at the same event.

To be able to come back for the Gymnastics World Cup in Melbourne shows the extraordinary grit and determination the pair has demonstrated to recover and then reach a standard to compete against the world's best.

But Remkes, who will compete in the pommel, has ruled out any attempt at pushing for Tokyo Olympic Games selection.

"I won't be ready (Olympics) for that," Remkes said.

"The pommel relies on upper-body strength which is good but that is not my usual routine.

"I'm happy with things. We had the trials last week and I only trialled for pommel but it turned out good so I made the team.

"I'm feeling pretty good. Training has been consistent recently so I'm happy with that.''

Stephens is also looking forward to the World Cup. He is based in the US and ruptured his ACL while representing the University of Illinois at a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men's Gymnastics event last March. It was another injury blow for Stephens who ruptured his ACL in the other knee during the 2017 World Championship.

But Stephens, remarkably, is having a crack at making the Tokyo Olympics team, lining up in the World Cup competition but with one eye on the key Oceania titles in April.

"I am feeling good. I will be using the World Cup to dust off a few cobwebs and hopefully getting through okay," Stephens said.

"Then the big one for me is the Oceania titles. I think there are about four of us probably vying for one place on the team for Tokyo.

"It will be tough but worth a go. I will fly home (US) after Melbourne and then return to New Zealand for the Oceanias.

"To be able to make my international comeback just 10 months after my second ACL reconstruction is something I am very proud of.''

More than 40 countries and 100 athletes are expected to compete at the World Cup which is one of the final events to qualify for Tokyo.

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