Tuesday 25 July 2017

'It sounds arrogant but I can beat all those guys' - Keane

Bryan Keane
Bryan Keane

Barry Lennon

Bryan Keane admits his Olympic qualification this year is a huge relief after a road collision ruined his hopes of reaching the triathlon at London 2012.

Keane, who turns 36 on Saturday, shattered his knee-cap after a car knocked him from his training bike in a "devastating" accident two years before the last Games.

"At that point my world was taken away from me. All of a sudden my career and everything I worked for was gone. It was just tough s***," he says.

Keane had to learn to run again as a result of the set-back which made him more determined to qualify for Rio this year.

"I didn't want to be someone who they said, 'he could have gone to an Olympics' about. It's huge for me, my family and everybody by me."

The Corkman narrowly achieved qualification in May with a world ranking of 53rd - to qualify, as athletes needed to be in the top 55 ahead of the cut-off date.

Read more: Maguire upbeat despite slow start in Rio

Keane, who regularly competes against the world's top 20, feels he is worthy of a better position than his current ranking.

"I don't like that number beside my name. I know I'm better than that. On my day I know I can go somewhere between the top 10 and 20," he says.

"I look at the bottom end of that qualified field, and it might sound arrogant, but I know I can beat all those guys."

He believes the strength-based course in Rio (which comprises a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run) plays to his advantage when the event starts this afternoon (at 3pm).

Keane's Olympic dream was born watching Seoul '88 on TV and running for Leevale Athletic Club, imagining Jimmy Magee commentating on his races.

Read more: Lanigan-O'Keeffe and Coyle embrace great expectations

However, the former photographer only began competing in triathlons professionally when he moved to Australia in 2009.

"I lived in Sydney working with a photography company and had no friends. I joined a triathlon club and went from no friends to a couple of hundred friends in a week."

Keane is aware of how helpful it was to take up the sport in a country that has claimed five triathlon medals since the event was entered in the Olympics in 2000.

The Corkman will be 39 by the time the next Games come around and he is aware that he has "a certain shelf-life" as an athlete.

However, Keane refuses to be drawn on when he will retire.

"Some athletes in other countries have a lot of athletes coming up behind them looking to take their place. At the moment I don't quite have that. There are some young guys coming through, they've yet to start biting my heels."

Bryan Keane is an ambassador for Europcar Ireland's Business Fleet Services

Irish Independent

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