Mental health key to Northern Ireland's Rhys McClenaghan's success

Northern Ireland gymnast Rhys McClenaghan became a two-time world champion last week as he clinched a gold medal on the pommel horse at the World Championships in Belgium.

The success earned the Newtownards native a place at the Olympic Games in Paris next year.

It hasn't been all plain sailing though, before the World Cup in Paris earlier this year McClenaghan suffered a panic attack, something he has never encountered in his career.

"I was in a state of panic, I felt my eyes welling up and honestly didn't want to compete for the first time in my career, after that event in Paris I knew I had to focus more on my mental wellbeing.

"That was what I was focusing on everyday when I woke up when I was in Belgium preparing for the World Championship was checking in on myself rather than checking in on my gymnastics.

"It shows to everybody that that athletes at the highest level of sport can have those daily struggles of mental health and progressing and improving that is a very important thing to be able to do.

"By no means getting the gold medal at the World Championship is everything fixed, it is still an ongoing battle and is going in the right direction but it is still something we can work on."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.