RHYS McCLENAGHAN vowed to come back “a way better gymnast and a way better man” after disappointment in Tokyo this morning.
And while Ireland’s first Olympic gymnastic finalist may have missed out on a medal, he won praise for his dignified and determined response to defeat.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport after an early dismount in the Men’s Pommel Horse Final derailed his hopes, McClenaghan vowed to “turn a negative into a positive” and use his disappointment as motivation.
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 1, 2021
“I’ve enjoyed the journey and that’s a victory for me,” he told the broadcaster.
“This is definitely not the end of the journey by any means.”
Despite lamenting the fine margins that saw him finish seventh, he added: “I’ll come back a way better gymnast and a way better man.”
The 22-year-old from Co. Down went on to praise the support of his family and friends and the sacrifices made by his coach.
The maturity and honesty of his interview impressed viewers, winning praise from Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain, with many others describing the gymnast's response as ‘class’.
Loving that @McClenaghanRhys interview.
— Dara Ó Briain (@daraobriain) August 1, 2021
“I’ve enjoyed the journey and that’s a victory for me.”
Great words @McClenaghanRhys after reaching a historic Olympic final.
Well done for all you’ve achieved for Irish gymnastics and will continue to achieve.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) August 1, 2021
Rhys is the definition of class in this interview, hard luck but congratulations on becoming an Olympian. fantastic achievement
— Damien Storan (@StoranPhoto) August 1, 2021
Such a great athlete, in his own disappointment he tries to soothe that of his family and his Coach, acknowledging the fantastic sacrifices that families make
— Séamus Keaveny (@Linden_Lad) August 1, 2021
This is the clip. Bookmark it for when something goes wrong and remind yourself that coming close is good enough, winning is a bonus. Inspiration like this should be compulsory viewing in every classroom once a month https://t.co/ybfcTpshFn
— Derek (@ah_lads) August 1, 2021
Great attitude and perspective. Not easy to give an interview immediately after stepping off the arena after a disappointing outcome. Very small margins in the heat of the moment can make a big difference. He has done himself, his team and sport proud https://t.co/ZghvrZTCQF
— Colin Griffin (@colingriffin) August 1, 2021
What an absolute class act 🙌🏻 he has much to be proud of this Olympic cycle. It’s only the beginning 🇮🇪 https://t.co/48KqfgtMTr
— Emily Farrell (@Emily__Farrell) August 1, 2021
— Galvin Sports (@galvinsports) August 1, 2021
— Oliver Callan (@olivercallan) August 1, 2021
The mindset of this man is beyond us all, to have the strength to even interview after performing is next level. Did the country so proud 💕 https://t.co/6uHgmjHSpP
— Siobhan (@Sipowerr) August 1, 2021
I made my kids watch this. What a role model from down the road! He'll take a medal in Paris 👍 https://t.co/evjEmYKCnu
— Stuart Anderson (@SD_AndersonNI) August 1, 2021