Tuesday 21 November 2017

Cash boost of €20k to aid Behan's bid for Olympic glory

OLYMPICS: Irish gymnast Kieran Behan has been given a cash boost as he steps up his preparation for the London Olympics.

The 22-year-old earlier this month became only the second Irish gymnast in history to book his place at an Olympic Games and has been rewarded with a cheque for €20,000 from the Olympic Council of Ireland.

Behan was twice told he might never walk again after a tumour was removed from his leg when he was 10, before a freak training accident two years later left him with brain damage.

It meant he had to relearn how to do simple things such as sitting and moving his head, which left him unable to train for three years.

However, the determined self-funded gymnast battled back and was crowned last year's World Cup floor champion, and Olympic qualification has capped an impressive year.

Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, believes he will be an inspiration during the Games.

"Kieran has shown fantastic grit, courage and determination to reach his Olympic goal and is a stunning addition to Ireland's challenge for Olympic success in London," Hickey said. "He has a winning attitude that will inspire both the Irish Olympic team members and the public at large. He will do Ireland proud, that's for sure."

Behan will follow in the footsteps of Irish gymnast Barry McDonald, who competed at the 1996 Games in Atlanta as a wildcard.

Behan said at the time of his Olympic qualification: "To think years and years ago I was told 'you're never going to be able to walk again let alone do gymnastics', to find out I'm going to the Olympic Games is something that dreams are made of."

Chisora confident he can defeat Klitschko

BOXING: Dereck Chisora is ready to defy his critics and shake up the heavyweight division by becoming the first man to beat Vitali Klitschko since fellow Briton Lennox Lewis did so nine years ago.

Chisora, 28, lost his British and Commonwealth titles to Tyson Fury last year and was then defeated by Robert Helenius in Finland, but has managed to jump to the top of the queue of fighters waiting to face WBC champion Klitschko.

Adam Booth, the trainer of David Haye, said he does not expect Klitschko to have any trouble seeing off a man who is six inches shorter, and many other critics see Chisora as being unable to go beyond the opening rounds.

A total of 11 fighters have failed to beat Klitschko since Lewis stopped him in 2003, but Chisora says he can cause an upset.

"He (Vitali) is the king of the sport, but... I am going to whup his ass," Chisora said.

"I am not scared. That's why I am going to be successful."

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