Irish Gymnastics: Kieran Behan wins bronze at FIG World Cup

Artistic WCh Rotterdam/NED 2010: BEHAN Kieran/IRL

Yesterday was a great day for Irish Gymnastics when Kieran Behan qualified third on floor at the 2011 World Series, Salamunov Memorial Cup (Category B) in Slovenia. Today was an even better day for the Tolworth gymnast when he won the bronze medal in the floor final, just 0.225 behind the first place. This is the best result that Irish Gymnastics have achieved in a FIG World Cup. Also representing Ireland was Anthony McDonnell. The competition also included top names such as Vasiliki Millousi, Matthias Fahrig, Eleftherios Petrounias and Zhang Hongtao also competed.  Full results can be viewed for Day One and Day 2 on International Gymnast.

MAG Floor

  1. Rok Klavora (SLO)
  2. Fadi Bahlawan (SYR)
  3. Kieran Behan (IRL)

Here is Kieran’s qualifying floor routine

And his winning routine:

He also qualified 15th in the High Bar competition

If you have not heard of Kieran Behan before, you should have, he has quite an incredible story, think the male version of Imogen Cairns but worse. He began gymnastics at the age of 9, like most of us gymnasts he was brought to classes to try to get rid of his excessive energy.At the age of 11, a tumor was discovered in Kieran’s thigh, it was originally thought to be cancerous. During a procedure to remove the tumor, the device (a tourniquet) which is tightened around the leg to restrict the blood flow was not checked appropriately. This caused serious damage to the young boys leg, and left him with some nerve damage. At the time he was told that he might be facing life in a wheelchair. Luckily with bouts of physiotherapy and positive thinking and determination Behan only spent one year in the wheelchair and resumed training.  Tough for an 11 year old.

That wasn’t all of Behans bad luck, at the age of 12 he sustained a bad head injury following an accident on the high bar. Behan hit the back of his head, knocking the vestibular canal which affects balance. He was hospitalised for eight weeks and then required a further 18 months of rehab. As a result of this doctors and psychologists told him it would be unlikely he’d ever walk again, let alone do gymnastics. Like an seriously injured gymnast, Kieran could feel his chance of representing his country at the Olympics slip away from him.He spent weeks with his head strapped to the hospital bed, his eyes and head couldn’t decide together what to do which often resulted in somewhat seizures and blackouts. Luckily Kieran recovered with sheer determination and months of hard rehabilitation. He slowly began to return to a somewhat normal life, after being wheelchair bound for several months he progressed to crutches and then to a walking stick.

When he was nearly 15 years old he returned to training, but that wasn’t without some drama, he suffered small injuries such as sprains, strains and a wrist and arm break but within a year of returning training he was selected for the National Squad.

Since then Kieran has gone from strength to strength, he trains for up to thirty hours a week at Tolworths Gymnastics club in Surrey (coached by Simon Gale),  he did indeed get back into gymnastics, and has already won a wealth of titles – which includes being the youngest person to win the 2005 British Floor Championships. Since his head injury, he has earned an impressive collection of titles in countries including France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Greece and Canada. In 2007 he won a gold medal in the Under 18s British Championships (where he beat 30 other gymnasts) and in 2006 he won the Senior British Rings title. In March this year he placed 8th on floor at the Cottbus Cup, just missing out on qualification but was the first reserve. Earlier in the year he competed at the English Championships as a guest, competing on 3 apparatus. He showed a difficult floor routine and unofficially ranked in third place, alongside Kristian Thomas (1st), Theo Seager (2nd) and Reiss Beckford (3rd).  He also competed his handspring double front on vault for the first time at the event, the first Irish gymnast to have ever competed this move. He also qualified in 17th place on floor at the European Championships in Berlin this year.

Kieran will be one of three male Irish Gymnasts making their way to Tokyo, Huntingdon’s Luke Carson and Rohan Sebastian (University of Michigan) will also compete for Ireland. It will be Carson’s fifth World Championships and is hoping to move up the ranks. Behan is also hoping up his scores and score a personal best in Tokyo. Rohan hasn’t competed in a World Championships since 2009. All three hope to represent Ireland at the London 2012 and become the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Irish gymnasts to compete  in gymnastics at an Olympics.

Congratulations Kieran on your massive achievement, everyone is very proud of you!


  1. adam says:

    absolutly incredible! so proud! 🙂

  2. Admin says:

    It’s absolutely brilliant!

  3. I am the coach that took the Irish team around in Ostrava and what a wonderful result.

    I would like to congratulate all 3 team members for performing well and especially to my personal gymnasts Kieran Behan who won floor final and Anthony O Donnell for qualifying for the Vault final.

    Lets hope all the boys medal next year.

    Big prospects for the future with Gymnastics Ireland.

  4. Admin says:

    Thanks for the comment Demetrios. Congratulations to both you and the guys – fantastic results in Ostrava, it makes me really look forward to the future of Gymnastics Ireland. Hopefully the WAG side will also pick up soon.

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