Apparatus World Cup: Max Whitlock wins pommel horse gold from Rhys McClenaghan

Max Whitlock won gold while Rhys McClenaghan took silver in Paris
Whitlock won gold while McClenaghan took silver in Paris

Olympic champion Max Whitlock beat Rhys McClengahan to pommel horse gold at the Apparatus World Cup in Paris on his return to international competition.

The Englishman and Northern Ireland's world champion were renewing their rivalry for the first time in more than two years.

Whitlock won with a score of 15.450, with McClenaghan second on 15.100.

It was Whitlock's first international event since he won gold at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.

McClenaghan had finished joint top of the Olympic qualifying standings but came off the apparatus early in his Tokyo routine and finished seventh.

Whitlock, who cited mental health struggles as part of the reason for his hiatus, was in fine form despite his lengthy absence, while McClenaghan also excelled ahead of the World Championships in Antwerp in a fortnight's time.

The World Cup was held at the Bercy Arena in Paris, which will host the Olympic gymnastics competitions next summer.

McClenaghan had taken gold 12 months ago before going on to win his first world title in Liverpool a few weeks later.

In qualification on Saturday, both men scored 15.250, with McClenaghan edging ahead due to a better execution mark.

In the final, Whitlock, rather like he did in Tokyo, went first and produced a superb routine, scoring 15.450 to put the pressure on those who followed.

The GB gymnast's difficulty mark was 6.900 which meant McClenaghan would have needed to be almost flawless with a starting degree of difficulty score of 6.600.

His routine was almost as good and he came close to matching Whitlock's execution score, but it was not enough with the lower degree of difficulty and McClenaghan had to settle for silver on 15.100.

Irish team-mate Adam Steele was fifth with a score of 13.900.