Tokyo Olympics: Rhys McClenaghan seventh in men's pommel horse final

McClenaghan thanks family after medal bid comes up short

Rhys McClenaghan suffered Olympic heartbreak as a dismount early in his routine saw him finish seventh in the men's pommel horse final.

The Commonwealth and European gold medallist came in with high hopes of a medal but a scintillating performance from Max Whitlock, who retained his Olympic crown, with the first routine of the competition put the other finalists immediately on the back foot.

McClenaghan, who qualified for the final with the second best score, was given 13.100.

Needing a nearly flawless display to better Whitlock's score of 15.583, McClenaghan came off near the start of his routine before completing following a brief word from coach Luke Carson.

At 22, the Newtownards native was among the favourites to take home a medal having beaten Whitlock to Commonwealth gold on the Gold Coast in 2018 before winning a European gold later that year, and claiming bronze at the 2019 World Championships.

"One finger placement went off and that was me off the horse," said McClenaghan, who suffered similar disappointment at this year's European Championships.

"That's the finest of margins in gymnastics. One finger got caught under the handle and that was it.

"I'm standing here in front of you an Olympian, an Olympic finalist and the first Irish gymnast to achieve that. I'll be talking away from this a more dangerous man than ever before."

"With disappointment comes an incredible amount of inspiration. This is a long journey, this is the first chapter of my gymnastics career and there's going to be many more Olympic Games and hopefully more gold medals are wrapped around my neck."

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