Olympic hopeful gets €20,000 lifeline with new grant
OLYMPIC hopeful Kieran Behan was down to his last few pounds and not sure if he'd be able to compete in a prestigious international event this April.
But last night, the 22-year-old gymnast was thrown a financial lifeline, as the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) confirmed he would receive a cheque for €20,000 in the coming week.
His coach, Demetrios Bradshaw, said the funding would have a huge effect on the young gymnast's Olympic preparations after he qualified for London 2012 last week.
"In the last couple of days he was down to the last £5 in his pocket so this news will change everything for him," he said.
Mr Behan's family had been forced to plan fundraising events to help him compete in a key event in China in the run-up to the Olympics.
Announcing the grant, Pat Hickey, president of the OCI, said: "Kieran has shown tremendous grit, determination and courage in achieving the Olympic standard. We are pleased to provide essential grant aid to assist this stunning newcomer to Team Ireland."
The Surrey-born athlete stunned the world of sport by recovering from multiple career threatening injuries to become just the second Irish gymnast to reach an Olympic Games.
Mr Behan, whose parents are both Irish, was crowned the 2011 World Cup floor champion last October. On the back of that success, he was invited to a World Cup event in Zibo, China this April, where only the world's very best gymnasts will compete. However, funding concerns meant he wasn't sure if he'd be able to attend.
"Now, Kieran can prepare for the Olympics without worrying about how he's going to get to training, how he's going to compete or how he's going to buy gear," said Mr Bradshaw.
An OCI spokesman said: "Once we became aware of Kieran's situation, we decided to act. The Irish Independent highlighted his case and we're delighted to assist him in this way."