Rhys McClenaghan: Northern Ireland Champion of the Commonwealth Games in the line of nationalities with the International Gymnastics Federation | News News – News24

Rhys McClenaghan: Northern Ireland Champion of the Commonwealth Games in the line of nationalities with the International Gymnastics Federation |  News News - News24

Rice McLennan won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games as a gymnast from Northern Ireland.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has said that Northern Irishman Rice McLennan may have to relinquish her Irish citizenship to retain her Commonwealth Games title in Birmingham.

McLennan, Northern Ireland’s only gold medalist at the 2018 Games, has been banned by his teammates – Emon Montgomery and Evan McAurie – for representing Ireland in major tournaments that Northern Ireland did not participate in.

The Commonwealth Games NI claims that FIG “completely ignored” the Good Friday deal, while McLennan himself alleged that they did not understand the “unique situation in Northern Ireland”.

FIG explained two possible solutions – one for three athletes to relinquish their Irish gymnastics license and the other for the Commonwealth Games Federation to remove affected gymnastics competitions from the FIG calendar.

Gymnastics alone is causing such problems, with most of the Northern Ireland squad of about 90 in Birmingham representing Ireland internationally – a common occurrence since the signing of the 1998 peace agreement.

However, the Republic of Ireland does not participate in the Commonwealth Games and has been doing so since the 1940s.

McLennan, 22, said: “I was born in Northern Ireland and live in Northern Ireland. I have a feeling that FIG does not understand the seriousness of the Belfast deal.

“All other sports include qualification for Northern Irish athletes in accordance with the Commonwealth Games.”

McLennan represents Ireland at the late 2020 Olympics (PA photos)

McLennan represents Ireland at the late 2020 Olympics (PA photos)

In a statement to Sky Sports News, the FIG described the main logic of the decision as “a violation of FIG rules and regulations”.

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The statement added: “Gymnasts participating in any FIG-licensed international competition must hold a valid FIG license from the national federation they represent.”

Irish gymnasts registered to compete for Northern Ireland at the 2018 Games, when McLennan Pommel Horse won gold in Australia.

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