Rhys McClenaghan

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Rhys McClenaghan
McClenaghan in 2022
Personal information
Full nameRhys Joshua McClenaghan
Country represented Ireland
Born (1999-07-21) 21 July 1999 (age 24)
County Down, Northern Ireland[1]
HometownNewtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland[2]
ResidenceDublin, Ireland[3][4]
Height171 cm (5 ft 7 in)
DisciplineMen's artistic gymnastics
ClubNational Gymnastics Training Centre, National Sports Campus, Dublin, Ireland
Head coach(es)Luke Carson
Former coach(es)Vladimir Shchegelov
Medal record
Men's artistic gymnastics
Event 1st 2nd 3rd
World Championships 2 0 1
European Championships 2 0 0
Commonwealth Games 1 1 0
N. European Championships 1 0 1
Total 6 1 2
Representing  Ireland
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2022 Liverpool Pommel Horse
Gold medal – first place 2023 Antwerp Pommel Horse
Bronze medal – third place 2019 Stuttgart Pommel Horse
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 2018 Glasgow Pommel Horse
Gold medal – first place 2023 Antalya Pommel Horse
Northern European Championships
Gold medal – first place 2015 Limerick Team
Bronze medal – third place 2015 Limerick Pommel Horse
Representing  Northern Ireland
Commonwealth Games
Gold medal – first place 2018 Gold Coast Pommel Horse
Silver medal – second place 2022 Birmingham Pommel Horse

Rhys Joshua McClenaghan BEM (born 21 July 1999) is a Northern Irish artistic gymnast competing internationally for both Ireland and Northern Ireland. He is a double world champion on pommel horse, having won gold in 2022 and 2023, the first Irish artistic gymnast ever to win world championship gold.[5] In 2019, he became the first Irish gymnast to qualify to a world championships final and to also win a medal, taking bronze on pommel horse.[6]

He is a two-time European champion and a Commonwealth Games champion on the same apparatus. McClenaghan is the first Irish gymnast to compete in a European final and also the first to win a European medal.[7]

He also competed for Northern Ireland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games,[8] winning the gold medal on the pommel horse. He followed this by winning the 2018 European Championships, pipping the reigning Olympic and two-time world champion, Max Whitlock on both occasions.[9][10] In 2023, McClenaghan won a second European title and retained the world title.

He was named RTÉ's Sportsperson of the Year for 2023.[11]

Biography and career[edit]

McClenaghan was born in Newtownards, County Down, to Tracy and Danny McClenaghan.[12] He is coached by Luke Carson.[13]

When still technically a junior, he won the bronze medal in the 2016 British Artistic Gymnastics Championships pommel horse final behind Olympic medalists Louis Smith and Whitlock.[14][15] McClenaghan also won Ireland's first European Championships medal, earning silver on the pommel horse at the 2016 Junior European Gymnastics Championship.[16]

At the 2018 Commonwealth Games held at the Gold Coast, Australia, McClenaghan won gold on the pommel horse, beating reigning world and Olympic champion Whitlock by dint of higher execution score, after tying on overall scores. It was Northern Ireland's first medal for an artistic gymnast at the Commonwealth Games.[17][18] At the 2018 European Championships, McClenaghan won the gold medal and became Ireland's first-ever European champion.[19][20]

McClenaghan formerly trained at Rathgael Gymnastics Club in Bangor until his coach was made redundant in June 2018. McClenaghan was forced to train in his back garden.[21] He then relocated to Dublin, upon receiving funding and accommodation from Gymnastics Ireland and Sport Ireland to train in the Sport Ireland Institute in Abbotstown.[22]

In October 2019, he won Ireland’s first World Championship medal, bronze on the pommel horse, making him the most decorated Irish gymnast of all time.[23]

McClenaghan was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2021 New Year Honours for services to gymnastics.[24]

McClenaghan competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he came in seventh place in the men's pommel horse final.[25]

McClenaghan at the 2022 European Championships

In 2022 McClenaghan, along with fellow gymnasts Eamon Montgomery and Ewan McAteer, was banned from competing for Northern Ireland at the 2022 Commonwealth Games by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) as he had previously competed internationally for Ireland.[26] The FIG suggested the trio should renounce their Irish nationality on their gymnastics licences, or that the Commonwealth Games Federation remove the relevant event from that summer's Games programme. The decision was met with backlash from politicians including Brandon Lewis, Deirdre Hargey and Leo Varadkar, as well as from Commonwealth Games NI, which accused the FIG of "completely disregarding" the Good Friday Agreement (which recognised the right of Northern Irish people to be both British and Irish (McClenaghan had competed regularly at both the British and the Irish national championships.).[2] The trio were ultimately given special dispensation by the FIG allowing them to compete in Birmingham.[27]

Competitive history[edit]

Year Event Team AA FX PH SR VT PB HB
Junior
2015 Northern European Championships 1st place, gold medalist(s) 3rd place, bronze medalist(s)
2016
European Championships 13 2nd place, silver medalist(s)
Senior
2017 Baku World Cup 10
Osijek Challenge Cup 1st place, gold medalist(s)
World Championships 14
2018 Doha World Cup 4
Commonwealth Games 1st place, gold medalist(s)
Mersin Challenge Cup 1st place, gold medalist(s)
European Championships 1st place, gold medalist(s)
World Championships 113
2019 Zhaoqing Challenge Cup 2nd place, silver medalist(s)
Irish Championships 2nd place, silver medalist(s)
Koper Challenge Cup 1st place, gold medalist(s)
Irish Super Championships 1st place, gold medalist(s)
Paris Challenge Cup 9
World Championships 3rd place, bronze medalist(s)
2021
European Championships 5
Olympic Games 7
World Championships 24
2022 Doha World Cup 2nd place, silver medalist(s)
Cairo World Cup 1st place, gold medalist(s)
Baku World Cup 13
Irish Championships 4 1st place, gold medalist(s)
Commonwealth Games 11 2nd place, silver medalist(s)
European Championships 9
Paris Challenge Cup 1st place, gold medalist(s)
World Championships 1st place, gold medalist(s)
2023 Cottbus World Cup 5
Doha World Cup 2nd place, silver medalist(s)
Baku World Cup 2nd place, silver medalist(s)
European Championships 1st place, gold medalist(s)
Paris Challenge Cup 2nd place, silver medalist(s)
World Championships 1st place, gold medalist(s)
2024 Doha World Cup

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MCCLENAGHAN, Rhys (IRL)". International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
  2. ^ a b "Commonwealth Games: NI secretary calls for ban on gymnasts to be lifted". BBC News. 31 May 2022. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  3. ^ "MCCLENAGHAN, Rhys (IRL)". International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
  4. ^ "Euros a stepping-stone to Olympics for ambitious Rhys". RTE.ie. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  5. ^ Jessica Gadirova, born in Dublin, Ireland, won the Floor exercise world gold at the same championships, but representing Great Britain
  6. ^ "MCCLENAGHAN, Rhys (IRL)". International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
  7. ^ "Rhys McClenaghan takes pommel horse gold at Europeans". RTE.ie. 12 August 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  8. ^ "McCleanaghan wins Northern Ireland's first Commonwealth Gold". Belfast Telegraph. 8 April 2018.
  9. ^ Corr, Shauna (8 April 2018). "Northern Ireland gymnast Rhys McClenaghan 'pommels' Olympic champ Max Whitlock to take Commonwealth gold". Belfast Live.
  10. ^ "Rhys McClenaghan takes pommel horse gold at Europeans". RTE.ie. 12 August 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  11. ^ 'Newtownards gymnast Rhys McClenaghan wins RTE Sportsperson of the year for 2023'. ITV News, 17 December 2023. Retrieved 23 December 2023
  12. ^ "My Commonwealth Games gold is for my proud parents: Rhys McClenaghan". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Rhys McClenaghan, 16, wins British Championship bronze". BBC News. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  14. ^ "McClenaghan and McAteer win British Championship bronze". BBC. 11 April 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Gymnastics whizzkids Rhys McClenaghan and Ewan McAteer aiming high after British bronze joy - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk". Belfast Telegraph. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  16. ^ "Rhys McClenaghan earns Ireland first ever European medal in gymnastics". The Irish News. 6 June 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  17. ^ "McCleanaghan wins Northern Ireland's first Commonwealth Gold". Belfast Telegraph. 8 April 2018.
  18. ^ Corr, Shauna (8 April 2018). "Northern Ireland gymnast Rhys McClenaghan 'pommels' Olympic champ Max Whitlock to take Commonwealth gold". Belfast Live.
  19. ^ "Rhys McClenaghan wins pommel horse gold at European Championships". Belfast Telegraph. 12 August 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Rhys McClenaghan takes pommel horse gold at Europeans". RTE.ie. 12 August 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  21. ^ Leonard, Victoria (26 June 2018). "Gold medal hero Rhys trains in back garden after being 'forced' out of gymnast club". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Euros a stepping-stone to Olympics for ambitious Rhys". RTE.ie. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  23. ^ "'Pretty amazing' - History maker Rhys McClenaghan claims bronze at Worlds". RTE Sport. 13 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  24. ^ "No. 63218". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2020. p. N34.
  25. ^ "Tokyo 2020: Agony for McClenaghan as medal hopes ruined". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 1 August 2021. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  26. ^ "Commonwealth Games: Ruling body explains NI gymnasts' exclusion". BBC Sport. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  27. ^ "Commonwealth Games: NI gymnastics trio's Birmingham ban overturned". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 June 2022.

External links[edit]