An Irish man who was told twice he would never walk again has qualified for the Olympic Games.
Kieran Behan (22) has become the second Irish gymnast in Irish history to qualify for a summer Olympics, something he has described as a “dream come true."
Born in London to Irish parents, Behan admitted he was in utter shock when he qualified last Tuesday night.
"I was just jumping around the room crying my eyes out. I was just so chuffed. It really is a dream come true," he told the Evening Herald.
"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," he added.
At just 10-years-old, doctors discovered a non-cancerous tumor on his left leg, which left him wheelchair bound.
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"I had the tumour removed but the operation went wrong," he explained. "It damaged all the nerves in my leg. So I was wheelchair bound for a very long time and told I wouldn't walk again, let alone do gymnastics."
A mere two years later, while working with a high bar, the athlete sustained brain damage.
"I remember some of the hard days when my mum would wheel me to the kitchen window. I'd just sit out there and watch the cars go past and get my eyes adjusted to looking at things again because my brain couldn't function with things moving quickly and me moving my eyes too fast. That took a long time. I was out of gymnastics for three years in total,” he recalls.
Against the odds, he made a miraculous recovery. The Londoner said he may have his Irish heritage to thank for his success so far.
"To come from all that and everything that's happened with injuries, I've got the luck of the Irish on my side, most definitely," he joked.
"I wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for my friends and family and coaches and everyone who has stuck around and been there supporting me."
"It's going to be fantastic to represent Ireland," he concluded.
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