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Former SERC student named 2018 RTE Young Sportsperson of the Year

Former Level 3 Sport student Rhys McClenaghan from South Eastern Regional College (SERC) has been named the 2018 RTE Young Sportsperson of the Year award.

The RTE Sports Awards were held in December and recognise Irish sporting achievements on the national and international stage.

Rhys began training in gymnastics at the young age of six and has developed this passion ever since, inspired by his dad and aunt. After his GCSEs, Rhys joined SERC to study a Level 3 Diploma in Sport.

The Commonwealth and European pommel horse gold medallist has had a breakthrough year, stunning Olympic champion Max Whitlock to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Rhys then went on to become the first Irish gymnast to win a European Championship medal when he took gold in Glasgow in August.

He also won World Cup gold in Turkey in 2018, preparing for the event by training in his back garden after coach Luke Carson was made redundant from Rathgael Gym in Bangor.

Rhys is currently recovering from a shoulder surgery which unfortunately meant missing the recent World Championships in Doha, but he confirmed in November that the operation went well and plans to return to training as soon as possible.

Rhys expressed his gratitude at winning the award through Twitter saying “I’m very grateful to have been named RTE Young Sports Person of the year. I’m very grateful to be amongst such great athletes celebrating a successful 2018.”

SERC Deputy Head of School for the School of Applied Science, Sport and Access to Education Lynda Robinson said that “I’d like to congratulate Rhys on yet another sporting achievement. Rhys’ determination and resilience keep paying off as he strives to train and compete at the highest level as an elite athlete. I have no doubt that there are many more medals and trophies in his future.”

SERC has a proud tradition of supporting student-athletes in their sporting and academic pursuits, including former student Kevin Seaward who finished an impressive fourth place at the Commonwealth Games in the Men’s Marathon. In 2012 student Chloe Brown got the once in a lifetime opportunity to accompany David Beckham and four other young athletes to attend the Olympic Flame Handover in Athens. In 2016 Bethany Firth won four medals — three gold and one silver — at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

SERC provides a wide range of full and part time courses. Visit us at our Full-time Open Day on Wednesday 6 March from 2pm – 8pm at our Bangor, Downpatrick, Lisburn and Newtownards campuses. 

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