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Video: Rhys McClenaghan's focus is on Tokyo and the global stage

Irish gymnast and Indeed ambassador Rhys McClenaghan is determined to unleash his talent on the global stage
Steven Beacom

IRISH gymnast Rhys McClenaghan is all about the bigger picture and for the gifted 21-year-old right now that means the Olympic Games.

The articulate and highly-impressive native of Newtownards suffered disappointment in the European Championships in Switzerland at the weekend when he was forced to dismount from the pommel horse in the final, taking him out of medal contention and into fifth place.

The 2018 winner of the event wasn't helped by suffering a wrist injury before travelling to Basel and while frustrated at the time, McClenaghan's sole focus moving forward is on Tokyo and becoming the only athlete from the North since Mary Peters in 1972 to win at the Olympics in an individual event.

Speaking as an ambassador for Team Ireland partner and Global job site, Indeed, Commonwealth Games champion McClenaghan said:

"It's quite interesting to see how the brain evolves from immediately after a loss where all I feel is frustration and then you start to justify it a little more and see the bigger picture and that bigger picture is always the Olympic Games."

McClenaghan is a young man of many talents from vlogging to inspire youngsters to helping design the men’s gymnastics Team Ireland kit for Japan.

There is also a wonderful maturity to the County Down star. Across the globe there has been much discussion about athletes being vaccinated before going to the Games.

McClenaghan's responsible take: "I haven't heard anything about vaccines. I would like to get a vaccine of course but anyone vulnerable should get it before us because we are the fittest athletes on the planet."

On his injury the first Irish gymnast in history to earn a World Championship medal (2019) stated: "It put a real spanner in the works. The day before I was meant to travel (to the European Championships) I sustained a wrist injury on a simple conditioning exercise. That's sport.

''When you are putting your body to the limits every day that can happen."


Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan


McClenaghan admitted he did have initial thoughts of not competing in Switzerland for fear that making the injury worse could shatter his Olympic dream but along with his team opted to go ahead.

"The routine was different because I had to take out a couple of skills because they were specifically irritating the wrist.

''The wrist was painful so we did have to rejig the routine round a little bit but myself and my coach had a specific plan and that really helped me," said the pommel horse expert who may compete at the World Cup in Croatia prior to the Olympics.

"Things can be going perfect and then at the last second take a turn and go wrong. It's all part of the journey and story that when I have an Olympic gold medal round my neck I can look back at the European Championships and just laugh because it's how crazy sport can be.

"There are so many ups and downs and this is just one of those low points I guess.

''I'm turning this negative into a positive and seeing it as a motivation for the OIympics. I generally have a positive outlook.

''That comes with development and you need to work on it and teach yourself how to re-frame things and see the positive side of it."

Team Ireland partner and Global job site, Indeed, created a short film on the extraordinary journey of Indeed ambassador Rhys McClenaghan and his determination to take home Ireland’s first ever gymnastic Olympic medal through their #TalentUnleashed series.

Watch the full video here.....


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