Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Northern Ireland hero Rhys McClenaghan enjoys reception with Theresa May and Larry the Downing Street cat

Commonwealth Games heroes, including Northern Ireland's golden boy Rhys McClenaghan, have been given a warm reception at 10 Downing Street.

The Newtownards teenager grabbed a gold medal on the Gold Coast this summer, stunning gymnastics by beating England's modern day great Max Whitlock to take top spot on the Pommel Horse podium.

The result has led to McClenaghan being tipped for Olympic stardom but for now, he's rightly enjoying the plaudits that come with such success.

That included a private reception with Prime Minister Theresa May, along with other medal-winning athletes on Tuesday.

"With 229 medals in total I could go on listing all your achievements for a very long time, but first of all I just wanted to say to you not just congratulations, but a huge thank-you," said Mrs May.

"Thank-you, because although we all see the performances when it comes to the Commonwealth Games, you have all put in enormous hours of training to get to that place and of course along the way you have had to make sacrifices in order to be able to deliver that success.

"Thank you also to your coaches – your families, to your friends - who have played a big part in supporting you.

"And thank you for the entertainment, inspiration and excitement that you provided to millions of us who were staying up late or getting up early to watch what was happening and to see your success over there in the Gold Coast."

Mrs May also highlighted the historic nature of this year's Games, in which male and female athletes competed for the same number of medals for the first time. The Games also included the largest ever para-sports competition fully integrated within the main programme.

Outside, Rhys seemed just as delighted to become acquainted with Larry, the famous 10 Downing Street cat who is bestowed with the official title 'Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office'.

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