Monday 20 November 2017

Behan targets 'unfinished business' at Olympics

IRISH gymnast Kieran Behan is anxious to qualify for Rio. Photo: Billy Stickland/INHPO
IRISH gymnast Kieran Behan is anxious to qualify for Rio. Photo: Billy Stickland/INHPO
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Irish gymnast Kieran Behan believes he has "unfinished business" at the Olympics and says that is why he is so anxious to qualify for a second time.

Behan's journey from the childhood injuries that put him in a wheelchair to becoming an Olympic gymnast was one of the most inspiring sports stories of 2012.

However, he wasn't happy with his performance in London and is desperate to get to Rio to prove himself at the pinnacle of the sport.

Behan's strong all-around performance in the World Championships last year has earned him at slot in the final qualifying event which takes place in Brazil next month.

"Getting to London was a massive long-shot for me and a huge learning curve," said Behan (above).

"I didn't know what to expect. I got myself as ready as I could at that point but I was injured beforehand.

"Now I feel I have unfinished business and qualifying for Rio would be like a redemption."

For the first time in history, Ireland also has a female gymnast chasing Olympic qualification thanks to Ellis O'Reilly's performances at the World Championships last year.

The London schoolgirl, whose paternal grandparents hail from Armagh, only turned 18 last month.

"It's amazing because only a certain amount of people can get to the Olympics and I never thought I would be in this position," O'Reilly said.

Next month's competition, on April 16-17, is the same qualification route that Behan successfully took in 2012 and to make it through both will need to finish in the top 24.

"I've gone through this qualification process before so I'm prepared for it and feel it is possible," Behan said.

"I'm confident that I can achieve the qualifying standard and Ellis has a fantastic opportunity as well."

Irish Independent

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