How Rhys McClenaghan And His Coach Turned A Setback Into An Opportunity

How Rhys McClenaghan And His Coach Turned A Setback Into An Opportunity

Rewind a year and Rhys McClenaghan was in a very different spot following the World Gymnastics Championships. On Saturday, the 20-year-old from Down became the first ever Irish gymnast to win a medal at the Worlds when he claimed bronze in the pommel horse. That contrasts starkly to 12 months previous when McClenaghan failed to progress beyond the qualification round.

That disappointment in 2018 was mainly due to injury. Three weeks before the championships, he suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder. Surgery was required.

"From that moment, we had two options: we could be miserable and down in the dumps or we could look at this as a positive and it's very much what we did," said McClenaghan's coach, Luke Carson.

"We knew that Rhys was up there on the world stage and that he was able to have brilliant finishes at World Cups and things like that. To be a world champion, it takes that next level.

"You don't normally get that kind of timeframe that we had from November to March or April. We had that time to start fresh and really learn that circle shape. That's why he was the only person in the final to five a 9.0 execution.

"We went back and studied the greatest of all time which in both of our opinions is a Chinese gymnast called Xiao Qin. He was phenomenal and to this day, he could probably get up and make a world final easily. His circle shape, without a doubt, is the best that's ever existed.

"We studied it frame-by-frame, arm position, shoulder position - everything. We just broke that down and applied it to his training. We started afresh - he was doing things that he did as an eight-year-old. That's because we had to relearn it, we had to bring it right back to basics. It was tedious, it was trialling but it's helped get this medal.


"The injury presented an opportunity and like anything in life, you can either let it beat you or rise above it, and that's exactly what we did."

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

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