Search

Gymnastics success for youngster who has overcome tough start to life

PUBLISHED: 15:55 07 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:32 07 October 2017

Ben O'Keefe was born 12 weeks premature with an underdeveloped heart and lungs and suffered a brain heamorrhage. He has defied the odds and become a talented gymnast.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Ben O'Keefe was born 12 weeks premature with an underdeveloped heart and lungs and suffered a brain heamorrhage. He has defied the odds and become a talented gymnast. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

When Ben O’Keefe was born at just 28 weeks, weighing under two pounds and with a bleed on the brain as well as an underdeveloped heart and lungs, doctors didn’t know how he would fare as he grew up.

There was a chance that his difficult start to life would have a highly detrimental effect on his mobility and speech.

But it’s safe to say that Ben has defied the odds to become a talented gymnast who, at just 11-years-old, already has the honour of saying he has represented his country.

The Gorleston youngster was inspired to take up the sport having seen members of the British gymnastics team such as Louis Smith and Max Whitlock exceed expectations at the London 2012 Olympics. His mother, Vicki, began researching local clubs and before long Ben had signed up for training at Waveney Gymnastics Club in Lowestoft.

Even at the age of six, coaches could see that Ben’s talent was plentiful and he has continued to flourish as a gymnast ever since, culminating in a recent appearance at the Special Olympics GB National Games in August, where he won four gold medals and three bronzes.

“Before the competition I felt very nervous but quite excited,” said Ben.

“I’m really proud of getting gold in the floor competition because it was my first ever gold in that event. I’ve been working really hard with my coach, Ellen Hutchings, to practice my routine.

“My favourite gymnastics event is probably parallel bars; what I don’t really like is high bars but somehow I always get gold in that!”

Ben wasn’t stopping, though, winning yet more medals at the Disability Artistic British Championships at the start of October.

His achievements are admirable by anyone’s standards, but they are maximised by the hurdles he has had to overcome during his young life.

“Although there are certain things he has trouble remembering because of his disability, he somehow always remembers his routines,” said Mrs O’Keefe.

“We’ve seen some great progress over time and when he goes to competition I can see just how much he has developed as a gymnast.

“He’d now like to consider European and world competitions, but he knows he needs to carry on working hard in training.”

Other News

Yesterday, 17:28

This half term the Norwich Gaming Festival returns to the city so to celebrate we have compiled a list of ten of the best games of all time.

Yesterday, 17:17

A village primary school has been given another seal of approval by Ofsted.

Yesterday, 15:39

East Of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) is reminding the public about simple tips to stay safe during the expected mixed weather due this bank holiday weekend.

Yesterday, 15:11

A review of deaths at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston has found six out of a selected 406 deaths in 2017/18 have been identified as less than satisfactory.

Most Read

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Norfolk town is getting ready to welcome some trans-Atlantic guests next month.

Read more
Graham Plant
Wed, 16:28

A Great Yarmouth hotel is the latest ‘local’ to land a role in the new Danny Boyle film - playing the part of its seaside ‘double’ across the river.

Read more
Mon, 08:08

A body has been found in an area of marshland near to where an illegal rave was held just hours earlier.

Read more
Suffolk Police
Thu, 11:51

A no fly zone could be put in place at Great Yarmouth Air Show after fears were raised that nesting birds may be disturbed.

Read more
Thu, 16:46

A car has crashed into a ditch on the Acle Straight.

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 14°C

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the Great
Yarmouth Mercury

e-edition today

Subscribe

Newsletter Sign Up

Great Yarmouth Mercury weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter