Rider alumnus Shaun Clarida crowned Mr. Olympia

By Christian McCarville

The story of Shaun Clarida is one of triumph and inspiration. He has overcome many obstacles and trained extensively for years to become a bodybuilding champion.

Clarida came to Rider in 2001, when he decided to try out for the Division 1 wrestling team. He was a walk-on for the team during his freshman year.

Very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of that team, Clarida expressed gratitude toward his former wrestling coaches, Gary Taylor and current Head Coach John Hangey.

“They were the ones that pushed me more to get into the gym,” said Clarida. “It’s very hard to walk on to a D1 program in any sport. They gave me the opportunity, they gave me the chance and I earned my spot on the team, so I am very grateful for them.”

Hangey proudly commented on Clarida’s success as a bodybuilder.

“Shaun came to Rider as a very undersized 118 pounder,” said Hangey. “That was the only thing about Shaun that was undersized, he had a tremendous work ethic and a fighting spirit that matched the other guys on the team.”

Clarida’s experiences working out in the Rider gym led to him encountering a bodybuilder from the local area. This bodybuilder, Tom Garruca, convinced Clarida to try out a bodybuilding show.

“He showed me all of his medals, his accolades and his videos and he persuaded me to do a show,” said Clarida. “He said it looked like I had a good physique to do a bodybuilding show.”

Taking Garruca’s advice, Clarida gave bodybuilding a shot and ended up enjoying it greatly.

“I did my first show in May of 2005 and absolutely fell in love with the sport, the whole process,” said Clarida. “Getting on stage, it was an absolute rush.”

Clarida soon began to take bodybuilding more seriously. He decided to quit wrestling to pursue bodybuilding full time.

This decision paid off, as Clarida has found great success in his bodybuilding career. His most notable accomplishment: winning the 2020 Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition in the 212-pound weight class.

The Mr. Olympia competition is one of the largest fitness contests in the world.

The title of Mr. Olympia is one that is highly sought after on an international level.

Clarida describes his experience of winning the Mr. Olympia title as an incredible moment in which all of his hard work paid off.

“I just completely lost it,” said Clarida. “I just fell to the floor and started crying.

It was so emotional. All the years of doing this, the training, the dieting, the losing friends, the whole nine yards just all paid off. This is something I have absolutely dreamed of and worked for and for that to finally happen, it was a surreal moment.”

Clarida also explained that he has a lot of supportive people in his corner that continue to motivate him and push him to success.

“I have a strong team,” said Clarida. “My girlfriend and I train together every day. I have two amazing coaches, one handles my nutrition and one handles my training. Everyone lends a hand in helping motivate me, push me and encourage me.”

With the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Clarida did face several obstacles to his training. When the pandemic initially hit, Clarida had just begun his training for the Mr. Olympia competition. He had trouble finding a gym that would let him continue to work out.

A friend of Clarida’s was able to assist him with this, giving him the keys to a gym that he owned. From there, his training intensified.

“It was just me in the gym with my girlfriend training, nothing to distract us,” said Clarida.

In this environment free from distraction, Clarida put in the effort that would ultimately win him the title of Mr. Olympia.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Shaun and his accomplishments as a bodybuilder, said Hangey. “He is living proof of having a dream, setting lofty goals and doing whatever it takes to make it happen. A true testament to his character.”

Clarida’s journey from a walk-on wrestler to a world bodybuilding champion is an incredible achievement that is sure to be celebrated by his fellow Rider Broncs.

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