When, in the future, the Rio Olympics join their predecessors in the history books, the Irish athletes who we will remember most will be the medal winners. This is a fact of life, but it is a sad reality, for last night, Kieran Behan, who finished 38th in the men's gymnastic event displayed the kind of higher ideal the Olympics is supposed to be about.
Kieran Behan last night finished 38th overall in the men's' gymnastic event at Rio, meaning he missed out on a place in the final (to qualify, he needed to finish in the top 24).
Behan was confident of placing in the Top 24 ahead of the final event: the floor, his speciality. It went awry, however, and he seemed to injure his knee when landing at the very end of his routine. He hobbled off, and had to be taken out of the arena in a wheelchair. It has since proven that he dislocated his knee.
Behan has revealed to the 42.ie, however, that he dislocated his knee during his routine, and elected to finish anyway:
I nearly stopped after the first move but, I just thought, go for it and, yeah, then I could feel it completely go after my dismount.
Just as soon as my feet touched the ground on that first tumble and the knee went, I just knew that it was about survival and just getting through the rest of the routine.
Behan will now travel to London to have an MRI scan on his injured knee. Here he is speaking about it further to RTE Sport, from a wheelchair:
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 7, 2016
"Bad luck" is an understatement.
He fell in love with gymnastics from an early age, before this affair was cruelly interrupted by the discovery of a tumour in his leg at the age of 10. Further complications in surgery left him restricted to a wheelchair, unable to walk. Extraordinarily, 15 months later, Behan returned to gymnastics.
Not long after this return, Behan suffered a freak injury in training: he suffered a head injury when he fell off the High Bar and suffered a traumatic brain injury which caused damage to his inner ear, greatly affecting his balance and co-ordination skills. He was once again left in a wheelchair, and had to relearn how to sit up and move his head.
Behan was told by doctors that he would never walk again, let alone return to the gymnastics.
Anyone who is familiar with Kieran Behan should have known that he returned to gymnastics.
He broke onto the international scene in 2010, but he ruptured his cruciate ligament six weeks prior to the European Championships. Having worked himself back to fitness, he then ruptured the cruciate ligament in his other knee.
Nonetheless, he returned to compete at London 2012, becoming only the second male Irish gymnast to do so.
His Rio adventure has ended in heartbreak, but in doing so, Kieran Behan displayed the kind of better nature the Olympics is supposed to breed.