Injury for Irish gymnast Kieran Behan dashes Olympic final dreams

There is a lot of negativity surrounding the Olympic Games and the Rio renewal has been dogged with one of the worst build-ups in memory, given the doping controversy that makes many question what they are seeing writes Daragh O Conchuir

The reason the Games retain the attention though is that there are so many instances of valour; so many remarkable stories away from the limelight.

For most of yesterday, everyone was talking about Syrian Yusra Mardini, who along with her sister, saved 18 other people by jumping in the open seas and pushing their sinking boat for three hours until they reached land.

Competing for the refugee team under the Olympic banner, the 19-year-old won her heat.

At the end of the day, while some scarcely believable chunks of time were hacked from world records in the swimming pool, Irish gymnast Kieran Behan had added his name to list of stories that must be told.

He failed to make the top 24 for the finals of the artistic gymnastics, having to finish for 38th, but there was nothing but admiration for the second generation Irishman, who carried on despite dislocating his knee at the very beginning of his final floor exercise.

Behan has endured a number of serious knee injuries in the past and was once told he might not walk again, so his heroic deeds should not come as a surprise.

The 27-year-old English native became only the second Irish gymnastic representative when he participated at the London Games four years ago, Barry McDonald having made the breakthrough at Atlanta in 1996, but the occasion got to him and he underperformed, although a shoulder injury hindered his efforts as well.

This time around, he hit his marks at almost every turn until the agonising ending on what ironically, is his strongest exercise.

Behan won a silver medal in the floor at the test event in Rio earlier this year but unfortunately, injury hobbled him on the biggest stage, although he somehow battled through to complete his exercise.

The Londoner is renowned for the accuracy of his routines rather than their difficulty, relying on not having too many deductions for his execution.

The experience of four years ago clearly stood to him as he looked comfortable, starting off with a PB of 12.866 on the pommel horse.

“The best pommel horse routine I’ve ever seen him do” said Mary Murray, an artistic gymnastic judge offering analysis on RTÉ One.

Solid efforts followed on the rings (14.133), the vault (14.3), the parallel bars (14) and the high bar (13.6) as he gritted his teeth despite the blood flowing from his skinned hands through the bandages – a hazard of the trade for gymnasts.

That left him still on target for a coveted berth in the final but a number of mistakes left him with a disappointing score of 14.33, which ended his hopes.

As he limped heavily away though, it became clear that he had suffered a significant injury and he subsequently revealed that he suffered the injury in the very first tumble, explaining the subsequent errors.

Yet he was remarkably upbeat afterwards, satisfied that he had put the ghosts of his Olympic debut to rest.

“I felt it go and I just thought I’d carry on.

“Going into floor I felt very good and I know what routine I’m capable of on floor but that’s life, isn’t it, at the end of the day.

“Throughout my life I’ve had little bits of bad luck here and there. It’s just one of them things. I’m very proud to have stepped out into this arena and given it a shot.”


Most Read in Sport