While watching the 2012 Olympic men’s gymnastic competition I was once again in awe of the athletes who sacrifice so much physically, mentally, and emotionally to earn their chance at winning a gold medal. In particular, I was touched by the story of an Irish gymnast who overcame extreme odds in order to make it to the Olympics this year. Kieran Behan became Ireland’s first gymnast to qualify for the Olympic Games and his life is an inspiring story of victory over incredible physical and mental adversity. A true reminder of the strength and power all humans possess that enable them to rise above some of life’s most intense challenges.
At 10 years old Kieran had a tumor removed from one of his legs that resulted in nerve damage and was told he would never be able to walk again. Fighting the odds he not only gained the ability to walk but continued his gymnastic quest for the Olympics. A few years later during training he hit his head on the high bar damaging his brain and his inner ear which affected his balance. Once more doctors told him he would never walk again. But through much sacrifice and perseverance Kieran learned to walk and went back to training for his gymnastic dream. Not long afterward he injured both knees requiring reconstructive surgery then blew out the left one while practicing before a 2010 European gymnastic competition. In spite of these incredible obstacles he was determined to be an Olympian athlete and sacrificed all he could to live out his dream not once allowing adversity to prevent him from succeeding.
Kieran made it to the London 2012 Olympic Games and representing his country with great pride performed his best during the men’s gymnastic qualifications. His performance was not enough to qualify him for the finals but everyone knew his personal victory had already been won. What is the most amazing attribute of this Olympian athlete? Not only is he very skilled at gymnastics more importantly he is extremely skilled at rising above adversity through a positive attitude and sheer willpower. In fact, when asked to respond about his disappointing floor exercise, Kieran, answered, “It doesn’t matter what I’ve done in there, it’s how I’ve got to where I am now. But that isn’t the last people are going to see of me. I’ll be back because I’m a fighter.”
There are many courageous fighters in the world that are determined to find or make a way to success and by overcoming insurmountable barriers attain their goals and dreams. What can we learn from Kieran Behan? That within each of us is the power to choose how we view adversity and the ability to use those challenges to spur us on to victory in life.
“You just think about the positive side of it all, you just think about, ‘Right, well, I’m going to get back, I’m going to get back on my feet, I’m going to get back to the sport that I love. And that’s what drove me on.” ~Kieran Behan, London 2012 Olympic Gymnast