Kieran Behan

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Kieran Behan
Country represented  Ireland
Former countries represented  United Kingdom
Born (1989-04-19) 19 April 1989 (age 28)
Croydon, England
Discipline Men's artistic gymnastics
Years on national team 2009-
Club Tolworth Gymnastics Club
Head coach(es) Simon Gale & Demetrios Bradshaw

Kieran Behan (born 19 April 1989) is an English-born artistic gymnast, who represents Ireland internationally. He is the second ever Irish gymnast to qualify for the Olympics (the first being Barry McDonald in 1996).

Early life[edit]

Behan was born in Croydon, London to Irish parents Phil and Bernie.[1] At the age of 10, a benign tumour was found in Behan's leg and complications from the surgical operation to remove the tumour left him in a wheelchair. 15 months later, defying the odds, he returned to his gymnastics training. Not long after his return, he fell off the high bar during a training session and suffered a head injury which resulted in a brain injury and damage to his inner ear affecting his balance and co-ordination skills. He was once again confined to a wheelchair, and had to relearn simple skills to sit up and move his head. The injuries left him unable to train for 3 years, and doctors told him they did not expect him to be able to walk again much less be able to do gymnastics.[1][2][3][4]

Despite these setbacks, Behan returned to gymnastics and gained several awards as a Junior gymnast.[3]

Competitive career[edit]

In 2010 Behan broke out onto the International scene, but suffered a setback when he ruptured his Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) six weeks before he was due to compete in the European Championships. He then ruptured the ACL in his other knee.[4] He was able to compete in the qualifying rounds of the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam but did not make it through to any of the finals.

2011 became a break out year for Behan as he competed at the European Championships in Berlin and the World Challenge Cup series where he won silver and bronze medals on the Floor Exercise. He went on to compete in the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo.[5] Because he did not receive funding from the Irish Sports Council or Gymnastics Ireland, by the end of 2011 he had spent close to €12,000 on travel and accommodation expenses to get to the international competitions, friends and family supporting him by raising money through bake sales and other fundraisers.[1]

In 2012, he competed in the London Prepares Olympic Test Event, where he qualified for the Floor Exercise final, finishing in fourth place behind Gold medalists Daniel Purvis and Tomas Gonzalez and Bronze medalist Kristian Thomas, gaining the best execution score of the final. His performance in the London Prepares preliminary competition qualified him to the 2012 Summer Olympics. As a result, he was able to get a grant of 12,000 from the Irish Sports Council.[1] His story, and the fact he is only the second Irish gymnast to qualify for the Olympics made him a star overnight, being in demand for media interviews, and appearing on RTÉ's The Late Late Show.

He was expected to compete with a full Irish team at the 2012 European Championships.[6] In 2012 Kieran also gained BT Ireland as a sponsor.[7]

At the London Olympics, Behan did not qualify for the individual all-around, or any of the event finals.

In April 2016, Behan took part in the Aquece Rio Final Gymnastics Qualifier and successfully qualified to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d Gymnast finances leap to Olympics with cake sales and car washes, 13 January 2012; Retrieved 13 January 2012
  2. ^ Irish Gymnastics: Kieran Behan wins bronze at FIG World Cup Full Twist, 24 September 2011
  3. ^ a b Kieran Behan defies odds to achieve his Olympic dream BBC Sport, 12 January 2012
  4. ^ a b Five things you might not know about Kieran Behan, 12 January 2012
  5. ^ Gymnast Profiles: BEHAN Kieran Ireland Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique
  6. ^ "What dreams are made of" – Behan qualifies for London 2012 Olympics Full Twist, 11 January 2012
  7. ^ "BT bringing it all together for Olympic Hopeful Kieran Behan" BT Ireland, 18 April 2012

External links[edit]