Irish gymnast slams 'slippery' pommel horse after virus case at worlds

Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan criticised world championship organisers for making the pommel horse "nice and slippery" by disinfecting it mid-competition following a coronavirus case on Wednesday.

(File Photo) Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan criticised world championship organisers for making the pommel horse "nice and slippery" by disinfecting it mid-competition following a coronavirus case.   -  Getty Images

Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan criticised world championship organisers for making the pommel horse "nice and slippery" by disinfecting it mid-competition following a coronavirus case on Wednesday.

The 2019 world bronze medallist missed out on a place in the pommel horse final in Japan after an error-strewn performance in qualifying.

The 22-year-old was among a group of gymnasts who competed immediately after an unscheduled 90-minute break during which workers in full protective gear came out to scrub down apparatus.

Organisers later said that a Colombian gymnast who had competed in the previous group had tested positive for the virus.

But McClenaghan was less than impressed by the interruption and the freshly washed apparatus.

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"They wiped down the leather, took all the chalk off, so when I went on it, it was slippy," said a visibly angry McClenaghan.

"My hands were slipping, my legs were slipping. It's just one of those competitions that I just want to go home now."

McClenaghan later tweeted a picture of two workers wiping down the pommel horse, with the caption, "That's it guys, make it nice and slippery."

The Irishman's score of 13.766 left him well out of the running for a place in the eight-man final.

He won pommel horse bronze at the 2019 world championships and reached the final at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, finishing seventh.

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But he described his stay in Kitakyushu for this week's world championships as "a disaster".

"Somebody tested positive in the round before us, and as soon as I finished my warm-up I had to wait for an hour and a half," he said.

"I rarely blame external factors, but this was extreme."

Britain's Dominick Cunningham, who was also in the group waiting to come on, said the wait was "obviously a huge distraction".

But Cunningham, who competed in the vault and floor exercises, said he put it "straight to the back" of his mind.

"If you start thinking that they've cleaned all the equipment, you're going to start messing up," he said.

"If you just focus on your job, that's the main thing."

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