Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# Going Well
McClenaghan qualifies in first place for European final as Irish hopefuls impress on Road to Tokyo
Meanwhile, there were PBs and national records aplenty at the Irish national swimmimg team trials.

adam-steele-and-rhys-mc-clenaghan Claudio Thoma / INPHO A day to remember for Team Ireland in gymnastics: Adam Steele and Rhys Mc Clenaghan. Claudio Thoma / INPHO / INPHO

IRELAND’S OLYMPIC AND Paralympic hopefuls continue to impress on the Road To Tokyo this week, with gymnastics and swimming taking centre stage today.

One of Ireland’s biggest medal contenders for the Games, Rhys McClenaghan, qualified in first place for the pommel horse final at the European Championships in Basel, while Adam Steele booked his spot in the all-around final in 20th position.

21-year-old McClenaghan scored 14.766 whilst unveiling a new routine, on what was his first competitive outing since October 2019, to advance to Saturday’s decider, in which he’s eyeing a second European gold.

Steele returns to action tomorrow, having become the first Irish male gymnast to qualify to the all-around final. He follows in the footsteps of Galway’s Emma Slevin, who made history and reached the women’s final yesterday.

Full report, courtesy of Gymnastics Ireland, here >

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On home soil, the Irish National Team Trials continued in Dublin on an electric evening, with Danielle Hill continuing her incredible form, and Finn McGeever adding his name to the record books.

Larne ace Hill broke her third record of the meet at the National Aquatic Centre this evening, the 24-hour old 100m freestyle record in 55.33 seconds. Victoria Catterson broke the 21-year-old’s previous Irish best of 56.01 in last night’s semi-final with 55.44, before Hill reclaimed the top time in this evening’s final, with Catterson second in 55.53.

“No pressure does amazing things,” Hill said afterwards. “I was fuelled by Victoria’s swim yesterday and my disappointment of the 100 Backstroke, so all of that added together made up for a pretty nice swim.”

“We used to train age group level together in Templemore, so we’ve known each other quite a while and it’s nice to see Victoria starting to come through. It’s much needed for the relay, but also individually. I know how she works in the pool, and we train in the gym, so I know how hard she works in the gym too. She deserves it as much as I do.”

It’s an exciting time. Both of us would say we want to go 54 and there’s no reason why we can’t. We’ve just got to get our head down, and hopefully be given an opportunity to swim as a relay and prove that female swimming in Ireland is moving forward.”

Catterson echoed Hill’s words, predicting they will be “battling back and forth for this time for some time to come,” spurring one another on. 

The consideration time for the women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay for European Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in May was met in tonight’s final, with the women’s 4x100m Medley Relay also looking to be a very exciting prospect.

McGeever, meanwhile, broke his first Irish senior record in tonight’s 400m Freestyle final with an impressive 3:52.83. The 21-year-old National Centre Limerick man dominated the final to go under Jack McMillan’s 2019 record of 3:53.31.

“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” he said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet, but I’m pretty proud to have that title to my name.”

Meanwhile, in tonight’s 200m Individual Medley semi-finals — in which Ellen Walshe topped the field — Para-swimming stars Ellen Keane (2:39.36), Nicole Turner (3:09.04) and Roisin Ni Riain (2:33.82) were all under the Minimum Qualification Standard [MQS] for this summer’s Paralympic Games.

Dubliner Keane smashed her PB as preparations for her third Games ramp up.

Full report, and preview for tomorrow, courtesy of Swim Ireland available here >

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