Tolworth's Behan not at Olympics to make up the numbers

Golden eye: Kieran Behan

Golden eye: Kieran Behan

First published in Sport Your Local Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

Tolworth Gymnast Club's Kieran Behan will not be at London 2012 simply to make up the numbers, says coach Simon Gale.

The 22-year-old secured his spot at London 2012 by finishing 34th in the all around event on Wednesday at the Olympic test event at London's O2 Arena and saw his Olympic berth rubberstamped on Thursday.

Twenty-four hours later, Behan was flying to Dublin to be a guest on the Ireland's top rated Late, Late Show after being thrust into the media spotlight having become only the second Irish gymnast ever to qualify for a spot at the Olympic Games.

The Croydon-born star, who also finished fourth in the floor final on Thursday night, has put a string of serious injuries behind him since bursting onto the international scene as a teenager.

And coach Simon Gale, head men's coach at Tolworth, insisted he is out to medal when he makes his Olympic debut.

"It is an amazing achievement for Kieran and for Tolworth for him to qualify for an Olympics," he said.

"At first we weren't sure whether he had made it, but when we got the call in his hotel room we were jumping around and celebrating.

"You can't just qualify for an individual apparatus so he had to go in the all around as an individual and luckily he got in.

"We will be aiming for the floor final and the aim is to get a medal. He is not just there to make up the numbers."

Self-funded Behan has overcome a non-cancerous tumour in his leg, a serious brain injury and cruciate ligament injuries in both knees during the course of his a career to finally emerge as the 2011 World Cup floor exercise champion this year.

He will be the first Irish gymnast to compete at an Olympics since Barry MacDonald appeared at the Atlanta Games in 1996 and he admitted it was a dream come true.

"To think years and years ago I was told 'you're never going to be able to walk again let alone do gymnastics'," he added.

"To find out I'm going to the Olympic Games is something that dreams are made of.

"To come from all that and everything that's happened with injuries, I've got the luck of the Irish on my side most definitely.

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