London (AFP) – Northern Ireland’s top gymnast is now training in his back garden just months after beating double Olympic champion Max Whitlock to pommel-horse gold at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Rhys McClenaghan from Newtownards, east of Belfast, said he was forced into the unusual regime after having to leave his club in Rathgael when coach Luke Carson was sacked last week.
The 18-year-old McClenaghan is in training for next month’s World Challenge Cup in Turkey, before resuming rivalry with Whitlock at the European Championships in Glasgow in August.
“I did say nothing would stop me,” McClenaghan tweeted Tuesday.
“This brings back memories of using this Pommel Horse in my garden when I was 9, because I wanted to spend more time on what I enjoyed most. Thanks everybody for the supportive messages, staying positive no matter what #nomad #nogymnoproblem.”
In a statement issued to the BBC, Rathgael Gymnastics Club said cash problems had led to Carson’s dismissal.
“As recently reported, Rathgael Gymnastics has, in the last year, encountered significant financial challenges,” it read.
“There has been some recent speculation about the future of certain coaching programmes within the club’s structure and after a period of review and consultation the club can confirm it has had to take the difficult decision to make two positions redundant within the elite and high performance coaching streams,” it added.
“These structural changes are being made to safeguard the gym’s future.”