updated 07/27/2012 AT 11:25 AM ET
•originally published 07/27/2012 AT 6:45 PM ET
Watching Kieran Behan flip through the air, you’d never imagine the Irish gymnast overcame a series of injuries so severe that doctors told him he would never walk again.
At just 5-feet-4-inches tall, Behan, 23, struggled with a series of setbacks that would change his life forever, but his unwavering spirit and dedication to his sport led him to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, reports The New York Times.
Behan first started gymnastics at the age of 8, when he excelled at tumbling. But by the time he was 10, doctors found a tumor the size of a golf ball in his leg.