Blogs by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne
Kieran Behan, A Winner Against All Odds
7/29/2012 7:33:04 AM
If you think it’s impossible to realize your dreams, talk to Irish Olympian, Kieran Behan. When he was the tender age of ten, doctors declared he should prepare to spend his life in a wheelchair. What made the doctors say that? Kieran had a benign tumor removed from his leg, but complications ensued. The doctors had left a tight tourniquet on his leg for too long, resulting in nerve damage.
Kieran held firmly to his dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast. He said, “No, this is not the way it’s going to play out.” He refused to accept life in a wheelchair. He’s been practicing gymnastics since the age of 8 and he loved it. After the surgery, he had to endure relentless taunting by classmates. They called him a “cripple” and teased him for being involved in a “girl’s sport.” Kieran watched kids playing and running, while he couldn’t participate.
Kieran defied the odds by returning to the gymnastics venue only 15 months after his surgery. But there was soon another setback. He suffered a “freak accident” when he fell during a high bar routine, and hit his head. This horrific incident left him with a traumatic brain injury and damage to his inner ear. He couldn’t stand or walk. What would happen to his dream now? Again, doctors said he should forget about walking, let alone doing gymnastics. Kieran implored his mom to tell the doctors he’d overcome this. Kieran’s mom, Bernie, decided to quit her job, take her son home, and begin his road to recovery. Two years after this accident, Kieran began to reclaim his balance and hand-eye coordination. By now, the doctors were calling him “the miracle boy.” He returned to the gym to pursue his dream once more.
In 2009, Kieran suffered a torn ACL, just six weeks before the European Championships. That meant six months of rehab. Just as he was returning to competition, in 2010, he tore the other ACL. It was so discouraging to overcome this injury because he was ready to compete. He was devastated. His parents, his girlfriend, and his coaches did their best to lift his spirits.
In 2011, Kieran become the first Irish gymnast to win a gold medal in the floor exercise and 2 other medals, an amazing accomplishment.
Now, Kieran is competing in the London Olympics. He doesn’t expect to win a medal. Instead his goal is to inspire others to reach for their dreams and triumph over adversity. He feels he was “born to do this.”
Kieran Behan embodies the true Olympic spirit. He shares his wisdom and experiences with others. No doubt, he’s an inspiration to everyone. He’s the perfect example of what can be done with courage and perseverance. Indeed, anything is possible. Kieran has proven time and time again that he knows how to play the game and be a hero to many.
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