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Olympic champion Whitlock says McClenaghan ‘should have pushed the boat out’ in pommel final

Joe Fraser took gold while Rhys McClenaghan had to settle for silver

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Rhys McClenaghan won silver in Birmingham.

Rhys McClenaghan won silver in Birmingham.

PA

Rhys McClenaghan won silver in Birmingham.

Olympic pommel champion Max Whitlock believes Rhys McClenaghan did not take enough risks during today’s Commonwealth Games final.

With Whitlock opting to sit out Birmingham 2022, the Northern Ireland star was favourite to retain the title he won in spectacular fashion in Australia four years ago.

However, the Newtownards man had to settle for silver with a score 14.133. McClenaghan performed directly after eventual winner Joe Fraser, who delivered a stunning routine that scored an impressive 14.833.

Team GB legend Whitlock believes McClenaghan should have attempted a more difficult routine. At last year’s Olympics, McClenaghan performed a 6.5 difficulty routine in the qualifying round, while in Birmingham he produced 5.6 level routine.

Whitlock told the BBC: “McClenaghan’s difficulty level was so much lower than what he has been doing.

“I’m not sure the exact reasons for that, but I felt he could have done more. In this scenario he should have pushed the boat out a little more and put the risk factor up.

“If you put the risk factor up then there is more room for small mistakes. This routine, with a lower difficulty, left no room for error, so when he made mistakes along the way it cost him.

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“When Joe Fraser landed his routine just before Rhys, the only way Rhys could win is if he was perfectly clean. But his legs split, and that cost him gold.”

In 2018, McClenaghan stunned the gymnastics’ world by defeating England’s Whitlock in the Commonwealth final in Australia.


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