McClenaghan 5th In European Pommel Final

24th April 2021, 16:45p.m. | International

24th April 2021 Basel, Switzerland; 21 year-old gymnastics star Rhys McClenaghan finished in 5th place with a score of 13.566 after an unlucky fall while debuting an upgraded routine in the Pommel Horse final at the 2021 European Gymnastics Championships. It was an incredibly dramatic final with 5 out of the 8 finalists falling in what was the first major championships in 18 months, the last being the 2019 World Championships where Rhys secured an historic bronze medal for Ireland. Rhys now returns to Ireland for the final 3 months of preparation for Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games.

Speaking after his final Rhys said:

‘Yes of course I’m disappointed just because I know I am so much more than what I presented here at the European Championships but it kind of just goes to show that Irish gymnasts aren’t just happy with just participating anymore. Even with Emma Slevin’s results and Adam’s results. They want to make finals, they want to bring medals back and I’m in the exact same boat. I wanted to get a medal today but that was gymnastics. There was a lot of apparatus specialists on Pommel Horse that fell off even in qualifications as well. Many of them didn’t even make finals. I qualified first in finals even with not a great routine by my standards but yes there was a lot of people falling off. Pommel Horse is that piece of apparatus similar to in women’s gymnastics, the beam is that piece of apparatus that when you are bit nervous that’s when it’s going to chuck you off.

I could’ve went for a very basic routine and still come out on top but I was determined to push for that difficulty by adding in my new skill and that is the one that I unfortunately fell on but I want to demonstrate a routine that is the best in the world not just in Europe so that’s why I was pushing for that more difficult routine. I added in the new skill but it just didn’t pay off this time but it’s back to the gym.

It’s all about the bigger picture, it’s all about the Olympic Games, it’s all about the World Championships it’s no longer about just the European Championships, my standard is beyond that now because I know I can post a routine that is the best in the world and I’ll hopefully go down in history as the best Pommel Horse worker in the world. That’s not going to come by watering down my routines and performing an easier routine just so I can get a medal at this specific Championships.

I could’ve very easily went for a much easier routine but I chose not to because I am thinking of the bigger picture with my two coaches Luke and Matthew...

Now it’s straight back to the gym. I just want to make sure that my body is healthy more than anything. A healthy body equals a healthy mind too. Today will just give me more hunger going back to training for the Tokyo Olympic Games. It’ll make me hungrier for that Gold medal that I think I am completely capable of winning.

Speaking after this afternoon’s competition, Sally Johnson, Gymnastics Ireland Performance & Technical Manager said:

I am so proud to have 3 finalists in this European Championships. It has certainly been a good Europeans for all of our gymnasts.

Unfortunate for Rhys today, it’s all part of the building process... Luke & Rhys will return to Dublin and continue their excellent preparations and training for Tokyo 2021. Thank you to all our support team back home and to our Physio Julianne.'

Ireland’s Men’s National Coach, Luke Carson said:

'Sometimes we need to loose the small battles in order to win the war. Rhys is still one of the best Pommel Horse workers in the world and he will have his day. Now he will rest and recover before we start the build-up for Olympic Games.'

Ciaran Gallagher, CEO of Gymnastics Ireland added:

'While things did not go Rhys’ way today he is a European finalist and as ever we are all super proud of him in Gymnastics Ireland. It was an important return to the field of play after 18 months of no competition due to Covid19. Both Rhys and our National Coach Luke Carson have demonstrated his potential again and now will get back to our national training centre at the Sport Ireland Campus with their eyes fixed on Tokyo 2021. Well done Rhys, Coaches Luke & Matthew, our Performance & Technical Manager Sally Johnson and physio Julianne Ryan!’

Watch the remaining of these incredible apparatus finals of the European Championships tomorrow on RTE 2 from 11.45am.

Yesterday (Friday) just before the All-Around medal ceremony Irish fans had a pleasant surprise when Rhys McClenaghan was brought out into the arena and presented with the ‘Smartscoring Shooting Star Award’. This award was started in 2018 by European Gymnastics sponsor Smartscoring and ‘aims to put a gymnast with an exceptional story in the spotlight, someone who is an inspiration for the future generation of gymnasts and the general public alike’.

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