Belfast Telegraph

McClenaghan and Ferguson are quick to lay down markers in their medal pursuit


By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland athletes have made an impressive start to their Commonwealth Games glory bids on Australia's Gold Coast.

Gymnast Rhys McClenaghan and swimmer Conor Ferguson showed their class as they set up an opportunity to taste memorable success.

McClenaghan was second in pommel horse qualification behind Olympic champion Max Whitlock and qualified 13th for the all-round final.

The 18-year-old described his pommel horse routine as "out of this world - I'm sure you heard me shouting out at the end of my (pommel horse) routine."

He added: "To be on the Commonwealth stage and perform like that is fantastic because not many people do that.

"There is always room for improvement because I had a fall but I will go back in the gym and be better for the all-round final if I make that.

"The competition is big with double Olympic champion Max Whitlock but he's not too far ahead of me. I think I can nip away at his heels and do the best pommel routine that I can do and that will show in the result."

Ewan McAteer was pleased with his performance in his first Commonwealth Games although he missed out on clinching a finals place.

"There are always a few nerves on a stage like this but they turn into excitement because this is what we love to do," he said. "I really enjoyed it.

"I felt the vault went perfectly and I was really pleased with both of them. I've been coming back from injury so to perform at that standard is pleasing.

"It was the first multi-senior sport competition for me and a real eye opener."

In the pool, Ferguson qualified for today's 100m backstroke final and he insists the best is yet to come from him.

"I know there's a lot more in there so I'm pretty excited for tomorrow night," said Ferguson.

Ferguson finished fourth fastest in a time of 54.48 seconds but revealed afterwards that he accidentally struck the lane rope during his semi-final swim.

"I know that slowed me down," he reflected.

The teenager's time was over a second faster than his morning heat time. He was third behind Australian duo Mitch Larkin (53.15) and Bradley Woodward (54.22).

Cookstown clubman Calum Bain was 11th in the 50m butterfly after finishing fifth in his semi-final.

Bain clocked 25.45 in his morning heat to qualify 11th for the semi-finals and went 0.02 seconds faster in the evening as he remained in 11th spot.

The county Tyrone man's time was 0.26 seconds slower than the eighth and last qualifier for the final, Australian David Morgan.

His team-mate David Thompson just missed out on the semi-finals despite winning his heat in 24.77 seconds with Curtis Coulter 29th overall in 25.53.

European Junior medallist Ferguson's 100m backstroke final will take place at 12:36pm BST today.

Northern Ireland's netballers started their campaign with a 94-26 defeat by the hosts and gold medal favourites Australia.

The Australians led 44-15 at half-time and totally dominated the second half against Elaine Rice's team.

In the men's triathlon, Russell White finished in 14th place with youngster James Edgar in 22nd spot.

White, a member of Lisburn City Swimming Club and Dromore Athletics Club, was two minutes and seven seconds behind South African winner Henri Schoeman, with Edgar five minutes and 30 seconds off the pace.

Northern Ireland's bowlers, who took home two medals from the Glasgow Games, have had a mixed start.

Catherine Beattie began her singles challenge with a 21-14 win over Zambia's Getrude Siame but then lost 21-13 against South Africa's Colleen Piketh in a rematch of the bronze medal tie from Glasgow which the Northern Ireland woman also lost.

Beattie will probably need to beat Australia's gold medal favourite Karen Murphy to reach the knockout stages.

The men's triples team of Simon Martin, Martin McHugh and Andrew Kyle snatched a 16-16 draw with Malaysia but were beaten 21-11 by the Norfolk Islands.

The women's four of Donna McCloy, Erin Smith, Sally McCauley and Sandra Bailie were beaten 18-10 by India but men's pair Gary Kelly and Ian McClure earned a 28-6 win over Jamaica.

Belfast Telegraph


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