Team Ireland has officially selected the artistic gymnastics team who will compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. Rhys McClenaghan (Co. Down) will compete in the Men’s Pommel Horse and Meg Ryan (Cork) in the Women’s All-Around which takes place in the Ariake Gymnastics Centre from Saturday 24 July until Tuesday 3 August.
Both gymnasts will be competing in the Olympic Games for the first time, although they have both previously competed in European Youth Olympic Festivals. World Bronze Medallist and European Gold Medallist McClenaghan qualified for Tokyo 2020 based on his World Championship performance in October 2019 when he finished third, setting himself up as one of the favourites heading into this year’s Games. In Tokyo McClenaghan will compete in the qualification rounds on the 24 July, before his main focus, the Men’s Pommel Horse Final on Sunday 1 August.
For Ryan the wait was a little longer, at the World Championships she finished just outside the automatic qualification, as first reserve, and was offered the quota spot once Olympic rankings in gymnastics closed this week. The All-Around for women involves athletes competing across four events – the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and the floor exercise. Athletes move through qualification rounds into the finals, with a further opportunity for medals in the individual finals also. In gymnastics the athletes are judged based on execution, degree of difficulty and overall presentation skills.
Speaking on his selection, McClenaghan, who turns 22 just days before his competition, said,
“I’m incredibly proud to be officially named as going to the Olympic Games. I mean, that’s a childhood dream come true. Especially that moment when I found out that I would definitely be going to the Olympic Games at the 2019 World Championships. It was just one of those moments that will stick in my head forever, and it’ll be something that I look back on in the next 50 years, I still remember it so vividly.”
Both McClenaghan and Ryan have been part of the Gymnastics Ireland pathway for the past ten years. For Ryan the official announcement is a special moment,
“It’s just so unreal to actually be going to the Olympic Games. When we collected our kit it all became very real. I have been working a long time towards this moment, I started when I was about four or five years old, and have been working in the Gymnastics pathway since I was eight. It’s great to be continuing on and competing in Tokyo.”
Team Ireland Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, Tricia Heberle said,
“Congratulations to both Rhys and Meg on their official selection, they have both worked incredibly hard to be at this level, and we are delighted to welcome them into the team. In recent years Rhys has been an inspiration to so many with his history making performances for Ireland in World and European competition. While Meg who is one of our youngest athletes, is testament to the very strong pathway structures and quality coaching that exists in Gymnastics Ireland. We are looking forward to supporting them in Tokyo.."
Leading Team Ireland's gymnasts is Gymnastics Performance and Technical Manager, Sally Johnson who said,
“It has been an incredible journey to these Olympic Games. Coaches Luke and Emma have worked extremely hard in preparing Rhys and Meg for these Games starting from their very first session at a young age on the Irish Squad program, both following through to compete in the Youth Olympic Games, Junior Europeans and leading into the Senior program representing Ireland in World Cups, European Championships and World Championships.
I would also like to give a special mention to Sport Ireland and the Sport Ireland Institute for all the support provided in the gymnastics programme.
For the gymnasts, coaches and their families, myself and the Gymnastics Ireland team, it is a very proud selection. We are looking forward to finally travelling to the Games and I wish them the very best of luck and hope it will be a great experience for all.”
TEAM IRELAND GYMNASTICS TEAM:
Rhys McClenaghan (Men’s Pommel Horse)
Meg Ryan (Women’s All-Around)
Team Ireland now consists of 61 officially selected athletes, with over 100 athletes spots confirmed across nineteen sports SEE HERE. There are seven final team announcements to come over the coming week, with the official closing date for registering athletes at 4pm on Monday 5 July 2021. The Olympic Games in Tokyo will run from the 23rd July to 8th August 2021.
More about the athletes:
Born – 21 July 1999
From – Newtownards, Co. Down
Club – National Gymnastics Training Centre
Coach – Luke Carson
Year Started Gymnastics – 2005
2016 European Championships 2017 World Cup 2017 World Championships 2017 World Challenge Cup Made history when he became the first Irish gymnast to win a medal at the 2018 European Championships when he claimed gold in the pommel horse. 2018 World Cup 2018 World Challenge Cup 2018 World Championships He became the first Irish gymnast to win a medal at the World Championships when he won bronze in the pommel horse at the 2019 also securing his place in the Tokyo Olympic games 2019 World Challenge Cup – Paris 2019 World Challenge Cup – Koper 2019 World Challenge Cup - Zhaoqing 2019 Winner of FIG World Cup Series on Pommel-Horse for his multiple medals and outstanding performance in the World Cup in Paris Named Gymnastics Ireland “Gymnast of the Year” in 2017 & 2018 Two time RTE Young sports person of the year in 2018 & 2019
Finalist on Pommel Horse at the European Championships 2021
Born – 2002
From – Cork
Club – Douglas GC
Coach – Emma Hamill
Year Started Gymnastics – 2007
National Champion in 2015
Junior and National Champion in 2016 & 2017
Silver medallist in Celtic Cup in 2016
European Championships 2016
2019 World Challenge Cup – Silver Medallist on bars
European Championships 2019
Senior National Champion in 2019
2019 World Championships
Winner of Rising Star Award in 2017 at the Gymnastics Ireland National Awards
Winner of Special Recognition Award for Medal in the World Challenge Cup at the Gymnastics Ireland National Awards
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