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Rhys McClenaghan: 'There's no point in getting angry about something we've no control over. That's just the way it is'



Rhys McClenaghan

Rhys McClenaghan

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Rhys McClenaghan

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, we speak to gymnast Rhys McClenaghan.

Q How are you keeping?

A: I just had my last session in Dublin three days ago, so I was still training up until then but then they decided to close the sports campus for obvious reasons. I'm kind of just readjusting. Me and Luke (Carson, coach), we're just making up a programme so that we can still train and keep fit.

Q How have you been affected by the virus?

A: It hasn't directly affected my family, which I'm very thankful for. I'm also very thankful for the postponement of the Olympics because I think that was the right thing to do under the circumstances. It would have been rushed, it would have been unfair on others who didn't have the capabilities to train with this going on. It's obviously a bit of a shock and I'm sitting here thinking this doesn't feel like real life - they're postponing the Olympics! It was meant to be my first Olympics as well, so to have a big situation like this is strange to say the least. But we have to adapt. We know it's going to be next year, and I know that's the right decision to make, especially for all those who haven't qualified yet. It'll be the best thing for the athletes and the fans. Hopefully it'll be special next year.

Q How are you keeping fit?

A: Luke's still finalising the plan that I'm going to do from home. I've got the pommel horse in my house, we're just finding a place to put it! It's uncertain times, to be honest, with the news we're hearing. It won't be as good training as it would have been at the indoor arena in Dublin, but we can't sit and dwell on the situation that we can do nothing about, we have to make the most of it.

Q How are you keeping morale up?

A: This is only my fourth day of quarantine. I travelled straight back up to Belfast after I heard the news that Ireland were going into lockdown as well. I didn't want to be in Dublin if I couldn't train, so we decided it would be best to come home. Luke has his family up here, I have my family up here so it would be the best situation for me to keep me happy and motivated and still focused for the future.

Q Where are you drawing personal strength from?

A: Family is a big one for me, it always is. I'm going to continue to work in different ways. It's going to be different scenery for me, which is almost refreshing in a way, but I would have wished that the change of scenery was in another country with a world-class gymnastics set-up! But we can't all have our way in life and that's just the way it is, I'm not going to let it negatively affect me. I'm just going to take it in my stride and make the most of my situation right now.

Q Do you have any books, films or box sets that you would recommend while in quarantine?

A: I'm really interested in astronomy, so I'm really hoping to get stuck into some of Neil deGrasse Tyson's books. I studied astronomy at GCSE and had a love for it even before I studied it, so I've always loved watching documentaries and reading books about it. That's my little passion outside of gymnastics.

Q What's the first thing you'll do once this is all over?

A: Go back to training, of course! I might go away. I have a big love of travelling too, so I try to get away as much as possible because that's what keeps me happy, motivated and refreshed as well. My whole life pretty much revolves around travelling and as soon as money drops into the bank I'm immediately thinking about the next place I can travel to! I've a big list of places I want to go in the world and once the travel restrictions are lifted, I want to go somewhere new.

Q What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: Dealing with situations that are out of my control - there's no point in getting angry or frustrated about something that I have no control over. That's just the way it is. You need to learn how to separate the situations you can have an influence in and those you can't. That's something the whole world is going through, and there's a lot of frustration over businesses that are going under or people going through a really difficult time. What I think is really special about this time is that the whole world is in it together. We have to accept it and try and control what we can by following the laws and regulations that have been put in place, and wash your hands regularly!

Q Do you have a message for sports fans?

A: Be patient. There's going to be a big year ahead of us next year, the biggest year yet. This year has come to a halt pretty much because of this, but it won't stop me in any way. There are bigger things to come in the coming years in my gymnastics career.

Belfast Telegraph