22-year-old Kieran Behan has made world gymnastics history by winning the gold medal at the Challenge World Cup in Ostrava , the first time an Irish Gymnast has ever won such a prestigious title.
With a score of 14.675 , Behan from the Tolworth Gymnastics Club in Surrey, coached by Simon Gale, Darren Gerrad and Demetrios Bradshaw , finished not only first on floor at this event but first over-all on Floor throughout the series.At Tolworth he trains for some 30 hours a week.
Kieran said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. It feels absolutely amazing and I’m over the moon. Definitely the best achievement of my life really. It’s what dreams are made of and to top it off to win the World Cup Series and be ranked number 1 is absolutely amazing. It opens doors to the invite only category A event, one will be in Paris and the Other in China and that would be fantastic.
“This is my final competition for the year. The World Cup starts in spring next year and then there’ll be a build up to the European Championships were we’ll hopefully be putting out a full team and can show everyone what Ireland has to offer.
“There’ll be a little bit of a celebration tonight to say thank you, especially to my sponsor Stoi Athletics Wear and to my club, Tolworth, and of course a big than you to Gymnastics Ireland especially Sally Filmer”.
On the 24th September 2011, Kieran won bronze on Floor at the same event, part of the World Series, in Maribor, Slovenia , a first for Ireland, and his success continued a month later in Croatia where he won silver on Floor.
Sally Filmer, Gymnastics Ireland, High Performance unit Director, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Kieran and Ireland. Kieran is showing such stability in his routine and with confidence and consistency the results have been great.Stepping out in these World events requires strong preparation and focus for producing clean consistent routines.
“Kieran is showing his strength as a competitor now. It’s exciting times for him.
Behan ,who is sponsored by Stoi Athletic Wear, made history earlier this year by winning Ireland’s first ever FIG World Cup medal in the sport.
On the 24th September he won bronze on Floor at the same event, part of the World Series, in Maribor, Slovenia , a first for Ireland, and his success continued a month later in Croatia where he won silver on Floor.
The gymnast has now won Ireland’s first ever gold medal and thus has qualified to move in to the A Series next year. A remarkable achievement for Behan who at 12 suffered a serious injury which cast serious doubts as to his future in the sport. He later in fact became part of the Team GB squad before joining Gymnastics Ireland in 2010.
A fine performance too from Anthony O’Donnell, who finished in 7th position in the Vault event, behind Spain’s Fabian Gonzalez. Only in November, O’Donnell, 20, who also is a member of the Tolworth club (he comes from Carrigaline) won a bronze at the Northern European Championships in Sweden, the first Irish gymnast to so do.
Irish gymnastics has made great strides since the appointment of Sally Filmer as coaching supremo in 2007 – Sally was a very successful gymnast in the UK and later had much success as a coach particularly with Samantha Palmer. Hopefully these latest successes will encourage the Irish Sports Council to provide some additional funding for the young squad and especially for the improvement of club facilities in Ireland.