Rhys McClenaghan, the reigning back-to-back world champion gymnast from Newtownards, Co Down, has been crowned RTÉ Sport’s Sportsperson of the Year for 2023.

McClenaghan, 24, won the gold medal in the pommel horse event at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, booking himself a place in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

He also scored his second European Championship pommel horse gold this year.

McClenaghan was the Young Sportsperson of the Year in 2018 and was also nominated for Sportsperson of the Year in 2022.

“It’s amazing,” McClenaghan said of winning the award this week.

“It’s just incredible that I’m an Irish gymnast taking home world titles and that’s never been done before. I’m so proud to be able to do that.

"I want to thank all of all of the nominees for this award for inspiring me and every Irish athlete at the highest level in this country it’s incredible from Johnny’s beautiful leadership for the Irish rugby team to Katie’s undeniable success in the boxing ring and leaving a legacy unmatched is inspiring for me so I want to thank all those athletes.

"Although it’s an individual sport there is a team behind us as individual athletes and it’s incredible that I have that support from Gymnastics Ireland, from everybody at Sport Ireland. It all works towards that ultimate goal to bring home medals for the country and hopefully we can go one further at the Olympic Games in Paris."

Proud to be named RTE Sports Person Of The Year 🏆 Can’t believe I’m even being named beside such great Irish sporting names… ☘️ pic.twitter.com/l4So8eLFvh

— Rhys Mcclenaghan (@McClenaghanRhys) December 17, 2023

Men’s Olympic Programme coach Luke Carson said: “Rhys' incredible achievements this year have been once again record breaking… the remarkable feat of retaining both his European and World titles in my view solidifies him as one of Ireland's most successful athletes.

"Rhys stands tall as a role model, inspiring young minds both in and out of the sports arena.”

McClenaghan beat off six other finalists to claim the title - rugby player Johnny Sexton, soccer player Katie McCabe, boxer Katie Taylor, jockey Paul Townend, swimmer Róisín Ní Riain, and hurler Allen Gillane.

McCabe congratulated McClenaghan on X, telling him he has "made all of Ireland so proud."