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Ewan and Rhys clinch historic double at championships

By Adam McKendry

It was double delight for Northern Ireland's young gymnasts at Liverpool's Echo Arena as they made history by picking up two gold medals at the British Men's Masters Championships.

Lisburn's Ewan McAteer finished top of the pile on Vault, while Bangor man Rhys McClenaghan won on Pommel, the first time gymnasts from Northern Ireland have taken top spot in both events.

Having both won bronze in their respective events last year, this was an exceptional achievement as the pair fought off members of Team GB and other international competitors to win gold in front of a packed-out Echo Arena.

Making the achievement even more remarkable is the fact that both McAteer and McClenaghan are juniors, both aged just 17 and still in school.

McAteer, who goes to Methodist College in Belfast, finished with a great score of 14.325 on Vault, while McClenaghan managed to score 14.900 on Pommel on his way to victory.

This result is the latest in some excellent performances for both of the rising stars - McAteer posted the highest score on Vault at this year's Senior Scottish Gymnastics Championships, while McClenaghan finished 10th on Pommel at the World Cup in Baku earlier this month.

McAteer is coached by Wajdi Bouallegue, who made two appearances at the Olympic Games, and McClenaghan is coached by former Irish gymnast Lucas Carson, who competed in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The pair now have their sights set on reaching their first Commonwealth Games next April, which will be held on Australia's Gold Coast.

"I am thrilled to have won the gold on Vault," McAteer said after the event.

"There was a lot of pressure on the day - the Echo Arena was packed, British Gymnastics were streaming the event live and I was up against the other seven best vaulters in Britain.

"It's all about holding your nerve, focusing on your landing and not watching what the other competitors are doing.

"I went for bigger difficulty in my vault than some of the other competitors and thankfully it paid off.

"Rhys and Andy (Smith) had already taken golds, so that added to the pressure. Huge congratulations to them both."

Another Northern Ireland success was Lisburn's Patrick Quinlivan, who took bronze in the Men's Disability Masters competition, while Ireland's only other gymnast, Andrew Smith from Cork, took gold on Floor.

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