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Rhys McClenaghan Was The Coolest Man In Tokyo After Wowing In Qualifying

Rhys McClenaghan Was The Coolest Man In Tokyo After Wowing In Qualifying
By Gary Connaughton Updated

Ireland have some major medal hopes in the Tokyo Olympics, but few have a better chance of ending up on the podium than Rhys McClenaghan.

The Down native is competing at the games for the first time and is one of the favourites for the pommel horse competition.

McClenaghan has a fantastic pedigree, already winning medals at world, European, and commonwealth level.

His quest to add an Olympic gold to that got off to an excellent earlier this morning, with the 22-year old wowing in the qualifying round.

He was all but faultless in his performance, registering the best score in his subdivision.

The mind boggles at the strength required for this event.

Speaking to RTÉ after his routine, McCleneghan said it was a dream come true to perform on the Olympic stage.

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It's a dream come true being here, to be an olympian. I'm officially an olympian!

To pull off a routine like I did today, I really couldn't be any happier. I feel like I set the standard for the day and I will see who will join me in that pommel horse final...

Qualification is the most important day because if you don't qualify now you're not even going to see me in the final.

I'm glad I did the job today, I showed the judges and everyone at home what I'm capable of. I'm ready for the finals...

I'm enjoying being here, I'm enjoying the Olympic games as a whole. Japan have put on a great show and I'm so happy to be a part of that...

I think I'll just do what I've been doing for the last week, there won't be much change in the lead up to finals day. It'll be pretty similar to now.

I'm just looking forward to it more than anything, being part of an Olympic final is a dream come true.

Ireland's first gymnastic olympian only came in 2012, with McClenaghan now the first to qualify for a final at the games.

His performances will have a huge impact on the sport in this country, although he admits that isn't something he can focus on at the moment.

I feel like in the moments after the competition I can reflect on the effects that this has, but while I'm competing I'm in the zone. I'm focusing because I've got a job and routine to do, that's exactly what I intend to pull off on finals day...

It's exactly what I expected, if not more. It's incredible being out here on the Olympic stage, seeing the Olympic rings around the arena, it's a dream come true.

Even after the routine I got a bit emotional. My coach just patted me on the shoulder and said 'just take it all in, you're in the Olympic games', and that's exactly what I did.

He will now take part in the pommel horse final on August 1st at 10.44am Irish time. We imagine that the whole country will be behind him.

SEE ALSO: Paul O'Donovan And His Olympic Interviews Have Made Their Glorious Return

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