Rhys McClenaghan: Olympics delay a positive for Commonwealth champion

McClenaghan secured Ireland's first World Gymnastics Championship medal in Stuttgart
McClenaghan secured Ireland's first World Gymnastics Championship medal last year

Commonwealth champion Rhys McClenaghan says switching the Tokyo Games to 2021 improves his chances of winning pommel horse gold at the Olympics.

The 20-year-old from Newtownards views the delay, caused by coronavirus, as an opportunity to be grasped.

"I'm young and it's an extra year to get better, more fit, add new skills and even add my own skill 'The McClenaghan'," he said.

"Time is on my side and it's an exciting thing to happen."

McClenaghan secured gold as a teenager at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast before becoming Ireland's first European champion in Glasgow four months later.

He added to theses early triumphs by picking up bronze at the World Championships in Stuttgart last October.

Games switch

McClenaghan has already qualified for Tokyo but his busy training regime was put on hold when the postponement was announced last week.

That hasn't stopped the young gymnast from finding ways to keep in shape and he also has advice for others staying indoors.

"I know it's the right decision for all the athletes and for all the fans who were coming to watch the events," McClenaghan told Sportsound Extra Time.

"As soon as announcement was made I had to make that mindset switch - I'm so active, it's my job to exercise so to be told to stay in your house is hard.

McClenaghan rose to prominence with his Commonwealth Games success in Australia
McClenaghan rose to prominence with his Commonwealth Games success in Australia

"I'm trying to do as much as possible as my brain goes all over the place when I'm not doing exercise. I've just finished my first session which was a bit of stretching and core exercises.

"The beauty of gymnastics is that it's all body weight exercises. I can do a hell of a lot at home, from press ups to chin ups on the skirting board along the doorframe - there's a lot I can do

"I recommend it, be creative, nothing to look too silly, there's no-one watching you and if it gets the muscles burning then it's going to work."

You can hear more from Rhys McClenaghan on Sportsound Extra Time from 18:00 BST on BBC Radio Ulster on Monday.

Top Stories

Also in NI Sport