Olympics: Rhys McClenaghan on his gynmastics journey and hopes for Tokyo next summer
By Paul Gilmour
Last Updated: 28/04/20 9:51pm
What's it like working from home as an aspiring Olympic gold medallist? For gymnast Rhys McClenaghan turning the delay into a positive and coping with tough training days is key, he tells Sky Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour.
"It's going to be my first Games so it's just one extra year of getting better and striving towards that gold medal," he told Sky Sports News.
"I do feel for the people who were thinking of retiring after this Olympic Games. Gymnastics is repetitive strain, pushing your body to the limit every day."
McClenaghan, a Commonwealth and European pommel horse champion before his 21st birthday, has been able to continue with most of his training during the pandemic.
He said: "The great thing about gymnastics is it's all bodyweight training so I would never use weights. I obviously miss the gymnastics gym but there's a lot of conditioning I can do."
That includes 'mega burpees' which is a normal burpee with a backward somersault at the top of the press up.
"Once you get past seven or eight of them it does get quite tiring! I was doing an endurance circuit in my garden and put them in because it's such a great exercise as it covers all aspects of the body."
Dog Finn is getting in on the act too with McClenaghan flipping over the top of him in another video.
McClenaghan said: "That was a bit of fun. I wanted to see how he reacted and it was funny him looking over his head at me doing a somersault.
"I'm walking about the house on my hands constantly and he's not amused anymore. He doesn't even look at me because it's just normal for him."
The 20-year-old should be at his training camp in Dublin but the delay has meant he is staying with his parents in Newtownards, Northern Ireland.
"It's important to take a step back," McClenaghan said. "My mind was so focused on that July 2020 Olympics but you can't stay that focused for an extra 16 months. It's not good for your mind.
"I had stopped drinking in January so I was just completely focused on Olympics but now I can have a beer out in the garden with my family.
"I have taken a step back mentally but at the same time I'm excited because this is an extra year of getting new skills and I can update my routine."
It's not all plain sailing though.
Elite athletes sacrifice so much to reach the top of their field and even they can have off days.
McClenaghan said: "I was having one of those bad days. I wasn't motivated and didn't really feel like I wanted to exercise. A friend called me up and she said 'have you trained today' and I said no and made up some excuses.
"She told me there would be other gymnasts wanting this gold medal and they are probably training today. She threw harsh realities at me and I ended up having a really good session.
"There are people I have in my circle of friends, my coach Luke Carson being one of those people, who are credible to me. If they say something like that it would hit me hard rather than someone I don't know on Twitter."
McClenaghan won Ireland's first medal at the World Championship last year, finishing just 0.1 of a point ahead of winner Max Whitlock on the pommel horse to take bronze.
He said: "It hasn't been a stronger field [than it is at the moment] in my opinion. That World Championship final in 2019 was incredible. It was the best final I'd ever witnessed. It was the most difficult medal to win.
"I'm predicting it'll be something similar to that next summer which is exciting but we're planning to change the result so I've got the gold medal around my neck."