It was a dream come true for gymnast Rhys McClenaghan as he sealed his place at the 2020 Olympic Games by qualifying for the final of the pommel horse at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
After two days of qualifying, the County Down man’s score of 15.200 was only bettered by Great Britain’s Olympic champion Max Whitlock who set the top score of 15.266, and in the process sealed his place in Tokyo.
In doing so not only did the 20-year-old achieve a life-long ambition, but he also became the first ever Irish Gymnast to qualify for a World Championship final.
Both himself and Whitlock, who is a two-time world champion, were well ahead of the other seven qualifiers in advancing to Saturday’s final.
It book-ends a tough few months for McClenaghan who was out of action for six months after a shoulder injury scuppering any chance of a World Championship title last year.
“The last year has been mad, it’s been really difficult and a test of my character and my whole dedication to gymnastics,” said the Irish gymnast.
“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone that recovery period.
“But I’m back now and I started off with two World Cup wins, I couldn’t be happier right now.
“To get to a World final is a dream for me. I can add so much more in the final.
“The first thing on my mind was the Olympic spot, it’s an Olympic dream for me.”