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'To officially be an Olympian is just amazing, it’s surreal' - 19-year-old Cork star delighted with debut

From the Leaving Cert to Tokyo, gymnast Meg Ryan has wrapped up her Olympic qualification competition.

Ireland’s Megan Ryan competing on the beam.
Ireland’s Megan Ryan competing on the beam.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IRELAND TEENAGER MEG Ryan says her Olympic gymnastics debut has been “an amazing experience overall” after concluding her qualification competition in Tokyo. 

Competing in the women’s-all around, the Cork star, who recently completed her Leaving Cert, was awarded a total score of 47.199 and finished 25th in subdivision 2.

Just Ireland’s second-ever female gymnast to compete at the Games, the 19-year-old Douglas native posted her highest apparatus score of 13.300 on vault, while scoring 10.466 on the balance beam, 12.000 on the floor and 11.533 on the uneven bars.

With just 24 gymnasts qualifying for the final, Ryan faces a wait to through the day now to learn her fate as the other subdivisions are completed and the final all-around ranking confirmed. It’s unlikely she will prevail, though, currently in 41st position.

Ryan was pleased with her exploits though and will take many positives going forward, having impressed on the biggest stage on the world.

“I’m feeling great,” Ryan said afterwards at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. “To officially be an Olympian is just amazing, it’s surreal.

“It’s been an amazing experience overall, just looking around and taking it all in. I knew that no matter what happens I was just going to try and enjoy it and be happy with the fact that this is the Olympics and I am an Olympian.

“Definitely a bit of nerves for me at the start, I think beam is always a shaky one to start on anyway. In my own head, a silly mistake was made and it’s something that wouldn’t normally happen. I know these things happen on the day and especially when you’re nervous. I was a bit nervous and shaky.

“I got into it though, and after that I tried to put it behind me and focus on the rest and I think I did a good job with that and I was happy with the rest of the performance.”

She continued: “I was really happy with floor, I added a few small bits and pieces – a few new leaps and a spin, they all went well. I had a slight step out, but I think overall I was happy with floor and I got a good floor score and when I’m comparing it with my last competition I think I was happy with the score.

“I was also happy with my vault as that is something that I didn’t get to compete at Europeans. This is my first time competing in a long time so I’m happy with that and bars as well. These are some of the best gymnasts in the world so it’s amazing to be able to compete against them.”

The second of Ireland’s two gymnasts competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after Rhys McCleneghan’s stunning start yesterday, Ryan should be extremely proud of her showing,

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“Meg Ryan today became only the second Irish female gymnast to compete at an Olympic Games,” as Gymnastics Ireland CEO Ciaran Gallagher added.

“As one of the first of the new generation of gymnasts to come through our redeveloped performance system this is a lifelong dream fulfilled for Meg and a really important milestone for the sport in Ireland.

“Many young gymnasts in our national squad system will no doubt have been glued to the competition while looking to follow in her footsteps in the years to come.

“Congratulations to Meg, her coach Emma Hamill, club Douglas GC and our Performance amd Technical Manager Sally Johnson.”

McCleneghan’s pommel final is next up on Sunday, 1 August, while in her interview with RTÉ, Ryan was already switching her focus to World Championships later this year.

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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