Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan is determined to continue his training in preparation for the Commonwealth Games this summer, despite being banned from competing in the event.

Speaking to RTÉ News, he said the decision that has been taken by the International Gymnastics Federation is "morally wrong" and he blamed it on their "lack of understanding" of Northern Ireland.

Last week the IGF announced it was preventing 22-year-old Mr McClenaghan and two other athletes, Ewan McAteer and Eamon Montgomery, from competing because they have represented Ireland internationally.

All three have expressed their shock and frustration over the ban and believe that their personal identities are being "challenged".

After winning gold when he represented Northern Ireland at the last Commonwealth Games four years ago, Mr McClenaghan, who is from Co Down, was hoping to defend his title this July in Birmingham.

He said there was "immediate shock" on hearing he could not compete.

He also said the options that the governing body for gymnastics have given the three athletes are not something they would consider.

"We either don't compete for Northern Ireland at the Games or we have to switch our nationality to GB and I think that is a completely backwards decision. It is completely unfair and goes against the Belfast Agreement."

The UK's Northern Secretary, Brandon Lewis, has since written to the President of the International Gymnastics Federation stating that, consistent with their rights under the Good Friday Agreement, these athletes should be entitled to compete for both Ireland and the UK.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is also united in its backing of the gymnasts.

The Irish Government has taken a similar stance calling for the decision to be reversed, with the Minister for Sport Jack Chambers describing the ban as unacceptable.

According to Mr McClenaghan, this issue has "shocked" the entire sporting community.

"No other sport has this issue. It is a unique circumstance," he said.

He is grateful for the widespread support and hopes that along with the ban being overturned, such a controversy will not arise in the future for other gymnasts.

"It is very discouraging for them to see gymnasts being de-selected from the competition. I don't even think you should have to explain your personal identity."

He has described this last week as a tough time "emotionally", but is focused on training ahead of the Games in July and bringing a gold medal home.

"It is an incredible thing I get to do and go out on an international stage and bring back medals. It is a privilege to do that," he added.