Rhys McClenaghan suffers shock exit from pommel horse at the European Championships

Rhys McClenaghan has suffered a shock exit from the men’s pommel horse at the European Championships in Munich, the 23-year-old falling short of qualification for Sunday’s final after scoring 14.200 in his subdivision this morning.

hat placed the Newtownards man second in his grouping, but with three subdivisions happening across the day, McClenaghan faced a nervous wait to see if it would be enough to advance in the top eight positions. It wasn’t, and it marks a surprising exit for McClenaghan, who won gold at the 2018 Europeans in Glasgow and recently won silver at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

McClenaghan is currently first reserve for the final and would be eligible to compete in the unlikely event another competitor withdraws in the coming days.

“I feel like that routine could have gone way better,” he said shortly after the event. “Not too happy with that performance. I did the first job, which is staying on, and that is pommel horse. It’s a great thing to be able to do that.

“I was a little bit proud of myself that I saved it so well. I kept the legs together on that step down from the flop and everything so I’m glad I did that. When you do something like that you are adding so much more surface to the routine and the endurance starts to hit your arms a bit more and then that resulted in the leg split a bit later in the routine.

“There’s just a couple of mistakes that set that score off. I split my legs in the same skill so there is going to be a lot of rethinking there with the coach about whether that skill is right for me in the routine.”

McClenaghan couldn’t point to anything specific that led to his errors and felt he had come into the championships in good form. “It’s going well in training but when it comes to the competition it just gets a bit off and that’s me tightening up the body wrong or something,” he said. “It’s the fine margins in this sport.”

Meanwhile the Irish men’s team finished 19th of 26 nations in the team competition, with Dominick Cunningham, Daniel Fox and Ewan McAteer all contributing. Only the top eight nations advanced to the final. Cunningham was the highest individual finisher in the all around, finishing 25th with a score of 79.530.

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