When US statesman Colin Powell said: "A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work," he could have had Olympic gymnast and BT ambassador Kieran Behan in mind. The 24-year-old Irishman has triumphed over a set of catastrophic injuries that set his training back on several occasions, but never once wavered in his determination to become an Olympic medallist.
Not when an operation to remove a benign tumour from his left thigh went wrong, for example, nor when he suffered brain damage following a fall.
"When I was 10, my coach noticed that I had a lump in my thigh, so he called my mum and dad in and they had a look," says Kieran, who began gymnastics at the age of eight.
"We went to hospital and an emergency operation was carried out, but it went wrong. The tourniquet on my leg was supposed to be checked every few minutes, but it was left on for the entire operation and I suffered nerve damage. I was told that I wouldn't walk again, let alone do gymnastics, and I was in a wheelchair for a year."
Determined to make a full recovery, he persevered through rehab and learned to walk again. Against the odds, he managed to make his way back to the gym 15 months later.
Two years later, disaster struck again when he slipped from the high bar and damaged the vestibular area of his brain, which controls balance. Describing it as akin to severe vertigo, the injury was so severe that he was back in a wheelchair again, missed a year of school, and had to re-learn basic movements.
He was out of gymnastics for three years because if he moved his head too fast, his brain would get confused and he would black out. This happened thousands of times.
Again, he defied the doctors' predictions by making a full recovery, although he has been warned that the condition could reoccur, particularly if his immune system runs low.
"It was very difficult to pick myself up and go for it all over again, but I used what had happened as my fire," he says. "It has really sculpted me into the person I am today."
Kieran grew up in the London suburb of Purley as the son of Irish parents, who brought him to gymnastics originally to help expend some of his excess energy.
"I loved it the minute I walked in," he says. "Even now, I can go in to the gym and learn a brand new skill. It's so rewarding to come away from a session having learned something that you never thought you could do.
"I chose gymnastics because it was the closest thing to flying, and it gave me an adrenaline rush. With artistic gymnastics, you have to make it as spectacular and elegant as possible, so I don't think people realise how gruelling and demanding the sport is, and how much work you actually have to put into it.
"I think, pound for pound, gymnasts are the strongest athletes out there. Everything we do is pushing our bodies to their physical limits. There's not much more that a human can do than jump around doing somersaults, and gymnastics is one of those rare sports that uses every muscle in your body."
Kieran had a hard time at school, as apart from being dyslexic, he had missed a lot of time through illness, and the other kids didn't deem it cool that he had to use a walking stick to get around. So it came as a relief to him to leave at 16 and train at gymnastics full-time.
Despite rupturing the cruciate ligaments in both his right and left legs, the latter before the European Championships in 2010, he did well enough to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. He was disappointed with his performance as he didn't get to the finals, but says it was the biggest and best experience of his life.
"The actual competition didn't go exactly to plan, but I would never change what happened because it has helped me become who I am now," he says. "If I'd hit everything exactly, maybe I wouldn't have been doing what I do now, because I needed something extra in my training to reach my full potential.
"It has helped me build for the future. If everything goes to plan, I'll be there in Rio in 2016, and I know I can use the London experience and learn from it."
To get himself into peak physical condition, Kieran trains at Tolworth Gymnastics Club six days per week, from 10am to 4.30pm. His training under coach Demetrios Bradshaw is divided into two sessions – the first concentrating on strength training and the second on skill-based and routine work.
Diet and nutrition plays a big part, and Kieran has been working with Optimum Nutrition in recent months.
One thing that has made an amazing difference to his life is the renewal of his sponsorship by BT Ireland.
"I wouldn't have been able to do it without BT," he admits. "I used to have a two-hour daily commute, but the sponsorship has enabled me to move close to the gym and get the help I need from physios, etc. I'm so grateful for the support."
Kieran lives with his girlfriend Natasha, who used to be a gymnast too. He says it's great to have someone who completely understands the hours he has to put in and the sacrifices he needs to make.
"I find it easy enough to be disciplined, because if I have a bad few days around eating, I can really feel it during training," he says. "I can see how vital it is to get that extra 1pc or 2pc into my performance, and how crucial it is for when I compete."
Kieran gets nervous before he enters the competitive arena, but says the nerves give him a huge adrenaline rush. "You need that fire in your belly to really go for it," he says.
Gymnastics can be a very subjective sport, because unlike track and field events, where the winner is clearly defined, you can execute what you feel is a perfect gymnastics routine, but the judges might not see it that way.
"The slightest twitch of your foot as you land could be the difference between winning a medal or not," says Kieran. "Or if the judge looks down and misses something.
"It's very strange, because if you're hitting a routine perfectly, it's almost like it's in slow motion, and it's over in seconds. If the opposite occurs and you're having a disaster, it feels like you've been doing it for hours, and everyone has seen every little error."
The next year is vital for Kieran and the Irish team, as they will be building for the road to Rio. In the future, the gymnast's ultimate aim is to achieve everything he can in his individual career, and then set up a gym club, probably in Dublin.
"My body is only going to hold out for a certain amount of time at this level," he says. "I'd love to bring through a great bunch of athletes to go out there and represent Ireland. My dream is to be an Olympian and then to produce another Olympian!"