Congratulations to Kieran Behan who finished just outside the medals in the floor exercise final at the European Games.
The Irish gymnast, who overcame a serious leg disability as a youngster, was first onto the mat in the six-man final, and although his score of 14.866 appeared perfectly executed, it just wasn’t enough to get him onto the medal podium here in Baku – for what would have been the first Irish medal of these Games.
“Of course fourth place is one of those agonising positions to be in,” said the 26 year-old, “but I’m very happy. The one thing I wanted to do, coming out here, was to make the two finals, individual and all-round, and I made the two finals. That was the aim.
“Obviously to have won a medal would have been a huge bonus, but I still think to finish fourth, in the first ever European Games, is going to be special for me.”
The gold medal went to Migue Zapata Santana from Spain, who scored 15.333; then came the German Fabian Hambuechen, who scored 15.100, with the bronze medal going to the Russian David Belyavskiy, who scored 15.000. The individual all-round gold medallist,Oleg Verniaiev from the Ukraine, ended up sixth, with his score of 14.233.
Behan certainly wasn’t making any excuses, although did admit to being a little off on one of his dismounts: he finished with a triple-twisting somersault and was greeted with considerable applause in the mostly full arena, although the medal just wasn’t to be.
“Of course I am disappointed, because I am a perfectionist, in that routine, and I know if I hit that routine I can hit it special. And that’s what I was aiming for. But I’ve proved I’m consistent, I just know I can nail that routine. I feel very strong with the base of my routine.
“And this was a world class field. Everyone is this field was either a world medallists, or a World finalist, and for me to step out there and come fourth is a massive achievement, for me, and my family and my friends and everyone around me will be proud.”
The World Championships in October will be the first qualifying stage for Rio – and Behan is already looking forward to moving further up the world rankings in his quest to make in onto the medal podium at some later stage.
“I’ve just watched the routine back, and I think the score could have been a little higher, but if someone said to me I’d come to the first European Games and finish fourth, after all I’ve been through, I’d have taken it.”
Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho