NI teenager Rhys McClenaghan teenager makes history with Glasgow gold

Newtownards' Rhys McClenaghan following European Championships gold. Pic by PA.
Newtownards' Rhys McClenaghan following European Championships gold. Pic by PA.

Teenager Rhys McClenaghan made European gymnastics history yesterday by bringing home a landmark gold medal.

The Newtownards competitor proved commanding in Glasgow to grab the glory across the men’s pommel final.

A mistake by double Olympic champion Max Whitlock handed McClenaghan his opening - and the 19-year-old proved a class apart to seal success with a 15.3 score.

McClenaghan, who finished 14th at last year’s World Championships in Montreal, has his focus on continued progress.

“It’s incredible to be crowned European champion,” said McClenaghan, who edged past Whitlock at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. “It’s been a dream to be in that final with so many great names whom I’ve looked up to since I started in gymnastics.

“The worlds is the next big goal.

“I said after the Commonwealth Games that my target is to get that world title, and I meant it.

“I will go to Doha with every intention of winning that gold medal.”

Whitlock, who at one point found himself stranded upright on top of the apparatus, scored 14.0, which at least avoided the ignominy of finishing last.

McClenaghan’s 15.3 tally marked an improvement on the Personal Best set during qualifying. His dream run of 2018 has also included victory at the artistic gymnastics World Cup, alongside a sole Commonwealth Games gold for Northern Ireland.