European Championships: Rhys McClenaghan qualifies for pommel horse final in first place as Max Whitlock falls

Rhys McClenaghan
McClenaghan is one of Ireland's big medal hopes for this year's Olympics

Rhys McClenaghan has qualified in first place for the European Championship pommel horse final but Britain's Olympic champion Max Whitlock is out.

Commonwealth champion McClenaghan, representing Ireland, scored 14.766 in Basel on what was his first competitive outing since October 2019.

Whitlock, the reigning Olympic and World pommel horse champion, fell off during qualifying as he exited.

McClenaghan is aiming for a second European gold in Saturday's final.

The Newtownards native, who was unveiling a new routine in Switzerland, won his first European title in 2018 and followed that up with bronze at the World Championships a year later.

McClenaghan, 21, is also expected to be one of Team Ireland's biggest medal contenders at this summer's Tokyo Olympics.

A good day for the Irish team in Switzerland also saw Adam Steele qualify for Friday's all-around final as he was in 20th position after competing on all six of the men's apparatus.

The women's all-around final will also take place on Friday with Emma Slevin in action after she became the first Irish female gymnast to reach an all-around European Championships final.

Galway woman Slevin qualified in 27th place.

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