A medal at the Olympic Summer Games…a dream countless elite athletes spend decades preparing for. A dream that for young Irish gymnast, first time Olympic hopeful and Indeed ambassador Rhys McClenaghan, all hinges on one shot and a routine which lasts under 60 seconds.
Supporting and following Rhys on his extraordinary journey, Team Ireland partner and Global Job site, Indeed, have released the first short film from their #TalentUnleashed series – ‘The Story of Rhys McClenaghan’. This intimate portrayal of the 20-year-old Newtownards gymnast delves into his most crushing disappointments, ecstatic highs and the performance mindset that has made Rhys McClenaghan determined to take home Ireland’s first ever Olympic medal in gymnastics.
Rhys was determined to unleash his talents from a young age; “My parents taught me about belief at a very young age. But even as a young gymnast I always had that belief like I was going to nail this routine.”
His talent, hard work, sacrifice and determination paid off and Rhys decided to start his senior career one year early to gain valuable experience on a global stage taking on his heroes; “The first competition of 2018, I went and beat the current Olympic champion, that was crazy”.
But later that same year, Rhys faced the hardest set back to his sporting career to date – a devastating injury during the 2018 World Championships; “I fell off the pommel horse twice. All the negative thoughts were flooding in. There was a tear in my labrum. The only solution was to get surgery. We could either take is as a very negative thing that we were going back to basics, or we could take it as a positive. We chose the positive.”
With the help of his Gymnastics Ireland coach, Luke Carson, Rhys made a comeback from his shoulder injury and took home bronze at the 2019 World Championships becoming the first ever Irish gymnast to medal at a Worlds. But the celebrations were short lived as he quickly switched his focus to Tokyo; “We want to be that far ahead of the field that we’re undeniably the best in the world. We want to go out there to Olympic Games and come out with a gold medal.”
Indeed partnered with the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) in April 2019 to become a sponsor of Team Ireland for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics through its campaign #TalentUnleashed. The Dublin based workforce supports four Team Ireland ambassadors: first time Olympic hopeful, gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, two-time Olympic Pentathlete Natalya Coyle, 400m hurdler Thomas Barr and reigning two-time world championship gold medallist, Sanita Puspure.