Gymnastics: British Olympic champion Whitlock laid low by Irish nemesis

GLASGOW: Britain’s gymnastics golden boy Max Whitlock endured more disappointment on Sunday (Aug 12) as he failed to medal at the European Championships with victory in the pommel horse going instead to Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan.

For McClenaghan, who gave Ireland their first ever medal in gymnastics at the European Championships, it added to his growing stature after he took top spot at this year’s Commonwealth Games for Northern Ireland, edging out 25-year-old Whitlock on the Gold Coast.

Rhys McClenaghan(Photo:AFP)

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Whitlock remained phlegmatic about the downturn in his fortunes at major championships – at one point in his routine on Sunday he was stranded upright on top of the apparatus.

"It’s just one of those days again and hopefully there won’t be many more of them," said Whitlock, who had also missed an element in qualification and failed to reach the floor final – the other event in which he won Olympic gold in Rio – which was won by compatriot Dominick Cunningham.

"I know people will look at it like I went to the Commonwealths and didn’t get what I want, and I made a mistake here, but the second half of my routine was one of the cleanest I’ve ever competed, and with a new skill."

Whitlock, who enjoyed better fortunes the last time he was in a major championships in Glasgow when he won triple gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, said he had longer term objectives and his present form did not cause him to lose too much sleep.

"I won’t obsess about this," he said. "I’m in it for the long journey.

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"I’m hoping to go to two more Olympic Games and many more major championships. I will use this one as motivation and to push forward towards the next one."

McClenaghan, whose rise has been phenomenal after finishing 14th in last year’s world championships, says he wants to make it a triple gold year at the worlds in Doha which run from Oct 25 to Nov 3.

"It’s incredible to be crowned European champion," said McClenaghan. "The worlds is the next big goal.

"I said after the Commonwealth Games that my target is to get that world title, and I meant it. I will go to Doha with every intention of winning that gold medal."