Sunday, May 19, 2024


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RHYS McClenaghan is out to become European pommel horse champion for the third time this weekend.

The Newtownards gymnast will aim to defend the crown he won in Antalya last year and make it a career hat-trick of European titles at Friday night’s Championship final in Rimini, Italy.

McClenaghan warmed up for his latest title shot by claiming bronze at last week’s Apparatus World Cup in Doha.

The double world champion has been working on a new routine as he works towards this summer’s Paris Olympics, and while tipped by many to add the only missing piece of the jigsaw to his decorated collection at the Games in August, McClenaghan knows he faces stiff competition.

Jordan’s Ahmad Abu Al Soud took the gold in Doha with a score of 15.500, just ahead of Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Chih Kai Lee of Taipei who managed an impressive 15.400.

Al Soud won silver behind McClenaghan at the 2022 World Championships in Liverpool and bronze behind the 24 year-old at the following year’s Worlds in Antwerp.

If McClenaghan is to finish on the podium tomorrow evening, he won’t be the only athlete from Newtownards to have claimed a medal on the European stage. Paralympic swimmer Barry McClements, who in 2022 made history when he became the first Northern Irish swimmer to medal at the Commonwealth Games, celebrated a bronze at the European Open Paralympic Swimming Championships in Madeira on Tuesday.

After finishing third in his morning heat to qualify for the 100m butterfly S9 final, McClements produced a formidable performance in the outside lane to steal the bronze in the last 50 metres with a time of 1:01.44 and take Ireland’s medal tally at the Championships to four.

Reflecting on the final, McClements said: “Yeah, it’s a nice feeling. I was probably a bit of an underdog but I said in the morning that I’d for a PB and I think that was close – so I’m very happy.”

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