Gymnast Kieran Behan struggled through a dislocated knee to complete his routine

Behan was the definition of class as he spoke after the disappointment of being injured

Kieran Behan, Olympics, Rio 2016,

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Late on Saturday night, Ireland's Kieran Behan took to the floor in Rio to complete a dream that had almost been taken from him on a number of occasions. 

As a child, Behan suffered complications from an operation that left him in a wheelchair, but somehow he fought back to return to gymnastics training. 

After London 2012, he once again faced having to call an end to his career, as he revealed when speaking to Off the Ball back in May.  

"I didn't hit exactly what I wanted to hit in the competition," said Behan of his performance in London, "but that's the nature of sport. I did go through a very tough time in 2013. I had to have surgery again on my knee, that was my fifth operation.  

"I was in no-man's land, I thought 'is this it? has my knee completely given out?"

Once again, he battled back with some incredible performances to qualify for the Olympics in Rio, but last night disaster struck again as Behan suffered another injury to his knee during his routine. 

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

However, instead of heading straight for the wheelchair and getting medical attention, Behan continued his routine and eventually finished 38th, outside the top 24 which would have seen him qualify for the next stage. He wouldn't have been able to compete either way however, as Behan dislocated his knee during his first tumbling line on the floor exercise. 

Speaking to Off The Ball's Richie McCormack, Behan said that he had to battle through his injury right from the start, contending with what must have been an incredible amount of pain.

"On my first tumbling pass I dislocated my knee, I felt it pop out and it's not fully gone back in yet. I nearly stopped after the first move, I don't know, I jut though 'go for it'. Then I could feel it completely go after my dismount."

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

"I know potentially what I'm capable of, I started on my weakest piece, then floor was my strongest, but as soon as my feet touched the ground on that first tumble and my knee went, I knew it was just about survival and it was just about trying to get through the rest of the routine. 

"By the time I'd landed the tumble, my dismount, the adrenaline started to wear off and I was just like 'this is not good'."

Looking to the future, Behan has already faced a huge amount of adversity to make it to the Olympics, but was philosophical as he considered what his next steps might be, and whether or not he will decide to continue in gymnastics at all.

"I mean, I don't know anyone that's had the journey I've had, it all depends on the financial state for me. I've gone through hell in terms of trying to just survive and keep my dream alive, and it just depends on what happens there. I'm so grateful for all the support and all the love back home."

After a great start, coming close to personal bests on his weaker events such as the pommel horse, he was in with a good chance of finishing well to qualify for the final. However, suffering the injury was a huge blow during his strongest event on the floor, but Behan was still in a remarkably philosophical mood as he considered the latest stroke of bad luck.

"This Games for me was proving myself as an athlete, and to even qualify after everything I've been through, that's my proudest moment. I know coming away from this in a few years time I'm going to be very, very proud of what I've done. I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone.

"If I've inspired anyone out there, then that's what I'm going to be proud of. To have gone out there and given it my all, you can't really ask for much more. At the end of they day, life is life. You've got to find the positivity and pick yourself back up; whatever happens, happens. 

With a hint of humour, he closed by adding, "I'll have a book one day, and this will make it even better!"