Tokyo 2020 Olympic Finalist - History maker Rhys McClenaghan

1st August 2021, 15:05pm | International

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01.08.21 Ariake Gymnastics Centre Tokyo: Rhys McClenaghan was unlucky today finishing 7th in the Pommel-Horse final after an unfortunate fall. McClenaghan, who last weekend became the first ever Irish gymnast to final at an Olympic event has done Gymnastics Ireland, his country and fans proud.

Rhys scored 13.100 with a Difficulty score of 6.400 and Execution score of 6.700.

Speaking after the competition Rhys said: "I know that I will feel disappointed with this performance but that’s ok. When I do feel disappointed that’s when I’m become even more motivated. I’m hungrier than ever and I am definitely the type of person to turn a negative into a positive and that’s what I am going to do. I’m going to leave this arena with this incredible experience of becoming an Olympian, being the first Irish gymnast to become an Olympic finalist and that is something very special to me - that’s my achievement here today. This is a very early chapter in my gymnastics career. It didn’t go my way today... One finger placement is all it took to knock me off the horse and it’s the finest of margins that matter in these games, this is only the 2nd time in the preparation for this competition that I’ve fallen off the horse, it’s brutal. I’ve enjoyed the journey and that’s a victory for me. I know that I’ll come back a way better gymnast, a way better man.

My coach Luke has sacrificed such a huge amount for me. He’s got a young family, the fact that he had to leave them, come down to Dublin to train with me shows how dedicated Luke is in this game and it rubs off me too, it inspires me a huge amount. Thanks to my family, I love you and appreciate all the sacrifices you have made for me! Thanks also to all my fans who have supported me in getting here."

Luke Carson, Gymnastics Ireland National Coach, added."I am very proud of Rhys today, my opinion is still unshaken, he will be crowned the best in the world. Now time is needed to reflect, regroup and get back at it. Thank you to Sport Ireland, Gymnastics Ireland and the Sport Ireland institute for all of their continued support."

Sally Johnson, Gymnastics Ireland Performance and Technical manager said: "The preparation coming into these games put together by Luke and Rhys has to be without a doubt the most professional well planned build up to a competition you could ask for! To have an Olympic finalist in gymnastics for the first time is an extremely proud moment for Gymnastics Ireland and Ireland. Rhys is an exceptional talent and has been directed & coached so well by Luke. I am really looking forward to more great competitions with them. A special mention to Matthew O’Connor, our Judges Denis Donoghue and Colm Murray, also to Sport Ireland and the Sport Ireland Institute for the great support. I am so proud to have such a great team involved and it is a privilege to work with them all."

Commenting on today’s final, Gymnastics Ireland CEO said: "There is nothing but pride here in Gymnastics Ireland for everything Rhys has achieved in Tokyo. Seeing him lined up along side the power house nations of China, Russia, Japan etc. representing Ireland in an Olympic final was a complete goosebump moment. His interview with RTÉ after was just superb. Like Rhys said himself he is just getting started!

Congratulations to our GI support team for the flawless preparation both in and out of the gym. To our National Coach Luke Carson, Performance & Technical Manager Sally Johnson again proud is an understatement… huge thanks to our Sport Ireland Institute support team including physios Julianne Ryan & Paul Carragher and finally thanks to our partners Sport Ireland and the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

We had many young national squad gymnasts here at the GI watch-party at the Sport Ireland Campus this morning… the impact watching Rhys in this final has had on them and all the others watching at home is unmeasurable!

We look forward to welcoming home our first Olympic finalist and his support team for celebrations in Dublin soon!"

Gymnastics Ireland Chair, Shane O’Connor said: ‘We are all super proud of what Rhys has achieved. We are looking forward to what he will achieve in the future as he continues to inspire the future generation of gymnasts behind him.’

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