Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – From a Wheelchair to the Olympics

In a world with a scarce job market, inexplicable shooting rampages, and war, sometimes it may be difficult to find anything uplifting. But the 2012 Olympic Games began in London on Friday, and as expected, the games do come with their share of heart warning stories. One in particular is the journey of Irish Olympian, Kieran Behan, who did more than just defy the odds. During this year’s games, Behan, 23, will compete in the horizontal bar, the floor exercise, and the vault, despite being told he would be permanently wheelchair bound.

Just two years after taking up gymnastics, a plethora of injuries started mounting for Mr. Behan at the age of ten, beginning with the discovery of an enormous lump in his left leg. Luckily, it turned out to be a benign tumor, but an oversight by the medical professionals lead to severe nerve damage in the leg. After being unable to walk for more than a year, Mr. Behan was back to his old stunts again, but his return would come to a screeching halt. His comeback period fell short of nine months, and this time his injury was even worse.

In the middle of a flip, Mr. Behan hit his head on the horizontal bar, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury and a severe loss of balance. Furthermore, he began losing consciousness frequently, which lead to another extended hiatus from his favorite sport. Once Mr. Behan was able to return, broken bones and torn ligaments would follow, but he just refused to give up. Even now, his rotator cuff is partially torn, but he was not going to let that stop him from competing in this year’s games.

Mr. Behan does not expect to win any event in London, but he feels his purpose goes way beyond a medal. He knows his story is a motivational one, and hopes to touch people from all walks of life. He always chased his dream, despite all the nonbelievers, but now even Mr. Behan struggles to understand how he persevered through it all. “I felt like I was in a fairy tale when I got here,” he said. “All I could think about was, is this a dream? Tell me this really happening.”


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