Aussie gymnast's incredible act to help teammate win Commonwealth Games medal

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·Sports Reporter
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Tyson Bull is pictured in competition on the left and holding his Commonwealth Games silver medal on the right.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Tyson Bull says he owes teammate Clay Mason Stephens a great deal, after the latter paved the way for him to make it to the podium. Pictures: Getty Images

Australian gymnast Clay Mason Stephens has been hailed by Commonwealth Games teammate Tyson Bull, after he paved the way for the latter to claim the silver medal in his pet event.

Bull, who finished fifth in the high bar at the Tokyo Olympics, initially had an absolute shocker when he stepped up in Birmingham.

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An uncharacteristically poor performance saw him finish 13th in qualifying, an troublesome ankle injury behind his woes.

Figuring his hopes in Birmingham were all but over, the door opened for Bull when rival Jesse Moore pulled out of the finals, suffering from a shoulder injury.

Stephens was the next eligible qualifier ahead of Bull, making for an awkward situation for the Australian teammates - but knowing Bull was more likely to make his way to the podium, he moved aside and allowed Bull to win silver.

Bull was incredibly appreciative of the move after the event, telling reporters he owed Stephens much 'more than a beer' for his sacrifice.

"Clay Stephens having the biggest heart in the world, (it was) just such a selfless act for him to offer that spot to give me a chance on my pet event," Bull told reporters.

"The message (about Moore's withdrawal) came through and obviously, it was the big elephant in the room. I gave Clay all the space he needed.

"It was a huge decision he had to make and there was no wrong decision.

"I was never going to ask for the spot because I knew he deserved it and how much hard work he put into earning that as well.

"It speaks to that decision he had to make and the kind of guy he is."

Aussie's Commonwealth Games sacrifice sets up gymnastics medal

Despite struggling with a serious ankle injury, Bull nailed his landing to score 14.233, with Cyprus' Ilias Georgiou (14.466) and Marios Georgiou (14.133) claiming gold and bronze respectively.

"I don't know how to feel right now," Bull said.

"Up until last night, my mind was completely off the high bar final. I only trained it a little bit yesterday just to warm up.

"But outside of that I hadn't done anything since Friday. It was the smallest chance possible that I was even going to be in this final.

"... There's no chance I was making the same mistake twice. I was gonna put it on my feet no matter how much it hurt."

Bull's gritty performance through pain was one of a number of noteworthy performances from Australian athletes this week.

Twelve months after the crushing disappointment of bombing out in qualifying at the Tokyo Olympics, Nina Kennedy restored Australian supremacy in the Commonwealth Games women's pole vault with an utterly dominant display in Birmingham.

Nina Kennedy celebrates after winning pole vault gold at the Commonwealth Games.
Nina Kennedy turned in an electric Commonwealth Games performance to win gold in the women's pole vault. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

On a successful first day for the Australian team at Alexander Stadium, para-athletics sprinters Jaydon Page (silver in the men's T45-47 100m) and Rhiannon Clarke (bronze in the women's T37-38 100m) also claimed podium places.

But the stand-out performance came from Kennedy.

Never mind that her winning height of 4.60m was 20cm less than what was required to claim third spot at the world titles in Eugene.

Australians have now won the women's pole vault on six of the seven occasions it has been contested at Commonwealth level - a sequence broken only when Canadian Alysha Newman saluted four years ago on the Gold Coast.

"I am so proud of myself," said the 25-year-old Kennedy.

"I was mentally quite flat after the world championships.

"I'd done such a great job and then to come here and repeat such a big effort was hard."

With AAP

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