…for every tear, a smile, for every care, a promise, and a blessing in each trial.
I must confess that I haven’t really heard of gymnast Kieran Behan until very recently. But his story is far too outstanding to not tell it here.
At the young age of ten, Behan was diagnosed with a tumour in his leg. After serious complications, the required surgery resulted in severe nerve damage which left him in the wheelchair. Initially being told he might not be able to walk again at all, he learned to walk again and even returned to practicing Gymnastics after 15 months.
Only a few months later, now aged 12, Behan slipped while training on the high bar. He struck his head on the apparatus suffering a brain injury and damage to his inner ear, thereby affecting his balance and co-ordination skills. Again he was told it was unlikely for him to ever walk again. Again he had to sit in a wheelchair and had to relearn simple tasks like sitting up and moving his head. And again he prevailed. This time it took him three years to take up full training again, but he pursued his sport with enormous tenacity and perseverance.
After having some success on the junior level he emerged on the international gymnastics stage in 2010, until his career came to a sudden halt yet again, when he tore his anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) in both knees in two seperate accidents. Over the course of his career, Kieran Behan required five knee surgeries, and again recovered each time, won a world cup event in the floor exercise and participated in his first Olympics, four years ago in London. Only the second Irishman ever to qualify for the Olympics in his sport. In an interview he later spoke about his initial reaction upon receiving the news that he was going to London 2012:
I was just jumping around the room crying my eyes out…To think years and years ago I was told ‘you’re never going to be able to walk again let alone do gymnastics’ to find out I’m going to the Olympic Games is something that dreams are made of.
Kieran Behan is 27 now and about to participate in his second Olympic Games.