Ireland’s only men’s gymnast Rhys McClenaghan began his Olympic medal campaign in the pommel horse qualifications in the Ariake Arena
The 22-year-old gymnast from Newtownards in Down has won the hearts of many of the fans with some of his social media antics.
He has given people at home a glimmer of what life is like for an athlete in Tokyo in his own light-hearted way.
More importantly for him now, the young Irishman is focusing on his gymnastic performances in Tokyo.
A few competitors that went before McClenaghan seemed nervy with a few bad mistakes amongst them. A score of above 14 would see the athlete likely proceed to the finals.
Athletes staying at Tokyo’s Olympic Village have been posting images of their ‘cardboard’ beds online. Some speculated that the beds are meant to deter athletes from having sex amid COVID-19, but Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan posted a video jumping on his bed to prove otherwise. pic.twitter.com/qHaLdCndv0
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 19, 2021
At 11:30 in Tokyo, he prepared to begin his routine after watching two other gymnasts fall off the pommel horse.
Rhys McClenaghan showed no such nerves as he began with some clean double leg swings. He eased through his circuit, travelling smoothly across the pommel with flair.
He finished with a small hand error in his dismount before pirouetting onto the floor. He left the floor very happy with his performance and he was right to be as the judges gave him a score of 15.266.
That score sees him into the final of this event where he will face off with favourite Britain’s Max Whitlock.
He hopes to show more of his talent after making it to the European finals in April only to fall from the pommel.
The final will take place on Sunday 1st August.
‘It was a good day at the office. I am an Olympian now and that is a dream come true. We are as prepared as we can be. I am relying on the preparation that we have done so far to replicate my routine today and do it better.’ said McClenaghan.
Commenting on the achievement, Gymnastics Ireland CEO Ciaran Gallagher said:
‘The pressure was on and Rhys rose to the occasion delivering a superb routine when it was needed. There is long wait now until the conclusion of sub division 3 to close out the qualifications and confirm finalists however I think it’s safe to say Rhys, our National Coach Luke Carson and Performance & Technical Manger Sally Johnson have much to be proud of!’
Great performance @McClenaghanRhys – 15.266 a great score & should see him into the final 🙏.
— Sean Ui Conchubhair OLY (@seanui) July 24, 2021